Media Blog

Fact-Checking Lou Dobbs

Pretty funny stuff, thanks to 60 Minutes:

One of the issues he tackles relentlessly is illegal immigration. And on that, his critics say, his advocacy can get in the way of the facts.
Following a report on illegal immigrants carrying diseases into the U.S., one of the correspondents on his show, Christine Romans, told Dobbs that there have been 7,000 cases of leprosy in the U.S. in the past three years.
60 Minutes checked that and found a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, saying that 7,000 is the number of leprosy cases over the last 30 years, not the past three. The report also says that nobody knows how many of those cases involve illegal immigrants.
“We went to try and check that number, 7,000. We can’t…,” Stahl says.
“Well, I can tell you this. If we reported it, it’s a fact,” Dobbs replies.
“You can’t tell me that. You did report it,” Stahl says.
“I just did,” Dobbs says.
“How can you guarantee that to me?” Stahl asks.
Says Dobbs, “Because I’m the managing editor. And that’s the way we do business. We don’t make up numbers, Lesley.”
“That’s a strange attitude for a reporter to have, ‘I don’t need anymore facts. I know what the truth is,’” says Mark Potok, who monitors hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

To be fair to Lou, we need to fact check CBS as well.  A few seconds searching finds this 2005 report from Columbia University:

A new case of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is diagnosed somewhere in the world every 60 seconds, but in the United States outbreaks remain rare. Only about 130 new cases are discovered each year, mostly among immigrants from areas such as Mexico, India or the Caribbean, where the disease is more widespread.
Over 100 cases were found in immigrants last year, more than double the number in 2000, and, while the number of cases is still comparatively small, some researchers believe the trend could lead to leprosy spreading to the U.S.-born population.

Maybe managing editors and star investigative reporters should try Google every now and again…

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