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Has Bill O'Reilly Stopped Lying About Arizona's Immigrant Crime Wave?

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Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has repeatedly cited one reason to support Arizona's harsh new anti-immigrant law: the state's exploding crime rate.

As FAIR documented in a May 17 Action Alert, there is no such crime wave in the state. What's more, most research shows that immigrants tend to commit less crime than the population at large.

The day after the FAIR alert, O'Reilly (5/18/10) was still at it, declaring that "crime in Arizona is up." When his guest, Cathy Areu of Catalina magazine, pointed out that the El Paso "is one of the safest cities in the United States"-- proof that the presence of immigrants does not increase crime--O'Reilly replied: "That's a bunch of baloney."

He was wrong. El Paso is regularly ranked as one of the safest cities in the United States (L.A. Times, 5/13/10). In fact, border towns with heavy levels of immigration are among the safest cities in the U.S. (AP, 6/3/10).

On May 21, O'Reilly claimed that Arizona is "overrun with crime and everything else and people getting slaughtered on their ranches. I mean, it's insane."

But since then, O'Reilly's stopped making these false accusations. Maybe he saw the FAIR petition demanding that he stop. Or maybe he read the story in another Murdoch-owned news outlet, the Wall Street Journal (5/25/10), about how the newly released FBI crime statistics for 2009 show that the violent crime rate "plunged 16.6 percent in Phoenix, despite a perception of rising crime that has fueled an immigration backlash."

That false perception and backlash have been perpetrated by media figures like Bill O'Reilly.

Is this Fox's way of admitting a series of errors? If O'Reilly realized that he was wrong, then he should tell his viewers.

Over 2,500 activists have signed the petition to Fox News demanding that O'Reilly stop his immigrant crime slurs.

Please sign and add your voice -- and we'll demand a response from Fox News Channel.

Here's O'Reilly's record of misinformation:

  • May 3: "Arizona had to do something. In the capital city, Phoenix, crime's out of control. For example, last year, New York City, with six times as many residents as Phoenix, had just 16,000 more reported crimes."
  • May 4: "The Arizona authorities say we're desperate. We don't have the money. Our crime problem is through the roof. Phoenix one of the most dangerous cities in the country. We got to do something."
  • May 6: "So the state of Arizona faced with an overwhelming crime problem, social chaos and a bankrupt treasury had to do something."
  • May 13: "Arizona's bankrupt. The crime's through the roof. Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the United States now."
  • May 14: "Arizona's already won the war of public opinion.... Americans understand, look, here's a state where the federal government will not do its job. The state has 500,000 illegal aliens. It's bankrupt. Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the United States. Crime is through the roof. Drugs are coming across the border all the time. So what do you expect Arizona to do?"