Sunday, May 13, 2007

Illegal Aliens Bring in Highly Contagious Disease? Dobbs' Lie.

CBS 60 minutes had a great piece on Lou Dobbs. The man who
used to be the spokesman for corporate America (Moneyline, on CNN) has shifted to populism. For years now, Dobbs has taken on a crusade against illegal immigration.
Nothing wrong with that, I guess (even if once could sometimes wish for a little more compassion) but that's a different story when you start changing facts to make them fit your own agenda and worse, you continue to defend a lie once you get caught.... and (almost) get away with it.

On April, 14th his show, Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN had a bogus report that immigrants have been carrying leprosy into this country.

Dobbs: And deadly imports. The invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans. Highly-contagious diseases are now crossing our borders decades after those diseases had been eradicated in this country. We'll have that special report.

Lou Dobbs and CNN Correspondent Christine Romans actually used wrong facts that would indicate that the number of leprosy cases have been increasing in this country, and linking those numbers to a surge of illegal immigrants, when in fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new cases have been declining in the United States since 1988, with a peak in 1985. As The Wall Street Journal reported, Dobbs' numbers just don't add up.

It did not take much research on the internet to check the facts, but the worst part is that when Dobbs was confronted with the facts by Lesley Stahl on CBS 60 Minutes, here is what he had the nerve to sa:

STAHL: Now, we went to try and check that number, 7,000. We can't. Just so you know --

DOBBS: Well, I can tell you this. If we reported it, it's a fact.

STAHL: You can't tell me that. You did report it --

DOBBS: Well, no, I just did.

STAHL: How can you guarantee that to me?

DOBBS: Because I'm the managing editor, and that's the way we do business. We don't make up numbers, Lesley. Do we?

This is just so typical of so many of those right-wing people: never admit you’re wrong even when you are and when caught in a lie, simply deny, deny, deny… and what’s the best guarantee that you’ve got your facts right? well, you of course! Oh, the arrogance!

But this is not even the end of it – instead of keeping a low profile about it, he brought it up on his show and continued to defend the lie:

DOBBS: And there was a question about his some of your comments, Christine. Following one of your reports, I told Leslie Stahl, "We don't make up numbers." And I will tell everybody here again tonight, I stand 100 percent behind what you said.

ROMANS: That's right, Lou. We don't make up numbers here. This is what we reported.

We reported: "It's interesting, because the woman in our piece told us that there were about 900 cases of leprosy for 40 years. There have been 7,000 in the past three years. Leprosy in this country."

I was quoting Dr. Madeleine Cosman, a respected medical lawyer and medical historian. Writing in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, she said: "Hansen's disease" -- that's the other modern name, I guess, for leprosy -- "Hansen's disease was so rare in America that in 40 years only 900 people were afflicted. Suddenly, in the past three years America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy" -- Lou.

DOBBS: It's remarkable that this -- whatever, confusion or confoundment over 7,000 cases. They actually keep a registry of cases of leprosy. And the fact that it rose was because of -- one assumes because we don't know for sure -- but two basic influences: unscreened illegal immigrants coming into this country primarily from South Asia, and the -- secondly, far better reporting.

ROMANS: That's what Dr. Cosman told us, Lou.

“Told us”? When? Cosman actually died in early 2006 and was a doctor in…. in medieval literature. She was also a fierce advocate against illegal immigration who identified herself as a "medical lawyer." and who advised physicians on how to sell their medical practices. and she had an agenda of her own as you can see in this video. Some credential!

And the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons had footnotes that did not readily support allegations linking a recent rise in leprosy rates to illegal immigrants. (Besides, the journal itself is not considered a leading publication, as it's put out by an advocacy group that opposes most government involvement in medical care.).

Now Lou Dobbs who sees himself as a populist on some crusade against the elite – a popular concept in grass-root America - also considers himself a journalist:

"Reporters don't 'take on' issues. Reporters 'report' issues, and there’s a big difference there," Stahl says. "Do you think you're a journalist?"

"Absolutely," Dobbs says. "I may be an advocacy journalist, but I'm a journalist."

Don’t you love this… "advocacy journalist"… The problem is that Dobbs is more an advocate for his own biased view of illegal immigrants than a journalist. Too bad, CNN keeps on air a man who lies about facts and that CBS actually hired him as well. Oh, but no, it is not that he lies, but that he "cares"... Right..

"The idea that a reporter should be disqualified because he or she actually cares, actually isn't neutral about the well-being of the country and its people, that's absurd."

Soon enough, lying will become an act of patriotism... Mmmm... I wonder where that idea came from.

The problem is that Dobbs' style (not unlike that of O’Reilly) is not just populist but also very popular. However, this is nothing new. After all nativist movements have always come and gone in US history since its very foundation.
This just happens to be one of those phases when xenophobia is a great way to gain popularity in some circles.

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