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Saturday, May 12, 2007

A look at Lou Dobbs' leprosy "expert"

Last Sunday, Lou Dobbs appeared on 60 minutes for an in-depth interview with Leslie Stahl, were he finally admitted that he believes the government could track down and deport millions of undocumented immigrants if it only made the commitment to do so.

But more importantly, after years of playing extremely loose with facts and figures in order to make his case, Dobbs was finally caught in one of his big fat lies in front of a national audience.

Both Media Matters and Dave Neiwert at Ornicus have done excellent jobs of dissecting the story, so I'll just cover the basic facts here and refer readers to those two stories to get more in-depth information.

It all started with the following exchange:

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."

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So it came as no surprise that the following day, Dobbs took time out of his nightly hate-fest to answer 60 minutes charges. He reiterated numerous times that despite the obvious discrepancy between his figures and those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - he never "makes up numbers":


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So there it was for all his loyal viewers to see. According to Dobbs, a doctor writing in a medical journal had reported those statistics, so obviously 60 min (and the US Dept of Health and Human Services) were wrong….case closed …if he reports it, it's a fact.

But as Media Matters and Ornicus report, it's not quite so cut and dry.

Madeleine Cosman does in fact hold a doctorate degree… but it's in English and comparative literature. …Dobbs' minion, Christine Romans, neglected to mention that when she descibed Cosman as a " a respected medical lawyer and medical historian writing in the "Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons".

So exactly where did this doctor of English literature get her hard medical data?
From medical studies or research? … of course not. She got her figures from a story gleaned from the New York Times.

But there was just one problem with Cosman's excellent research work. Dobbs' expert academic source had managed to actually misquote the Times in her article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, skewing the numbers to make her case.

According to Cosman:
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. Leprosy now is endemic to northeastern states because illegal aliens and other immigrants brought leprosy from India, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

Illegal Aliens and American Medicine, Dr Madeline Cosman, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Spring 2005

A quick check of Dr. Cosman's footnotes reveals her source was a New York Times Article from February 2003 that actually said something quite different.

While there were some 900 recorded cases in the United States 40 years ago, today more than 7,000 people have leprosy, or Hansen's disease, as it is now called.
New York Times, Leprosy, a Synonym for a Stigma, Returns, Feb 18, 2003 ( alternate link to cited article)

There's no mention of "the last three years" in the original article. It says there were 900 cases 40 years ago not "900 cases in 40 years". It also said that in the following 40 years that number had increases to 7000 cases, not "more than 7000 in the last three years."

But then again if Dobbs reports it –it's a fact.

(To see the complete 60 minutes segment on leprosy and Dobb's reaction - see this great video from Media Matters)



The question now raised seems to be - beside the fact that she supplied numbers that he liked and that made his case - why would Dobbs ever want to stake his reputation on the faulty scholarship of Dr Cosman?

Because, like many of Dobbs' guest experts - she' s clearly a NUTJOB:


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Oh Yeah, I remember why Dobbs would rely on Dr Cosman's research ….

Because once Dobbs reports it -it becomes fact


Related
Truth, Fiction and Lou Dobbs, New York Times, May 30,2007

19 comments:

Glen said...

Duke1676, I have just recently come across your blog blog and have put it on my feeder page. Assuming your research is accurate (I am assuming that it is) this is an excellent piece. Congratulations.

Did you see Juan Hernandez on O'Rielly? I have met Dr. Hernandez and was impressed by him.

I blog--mostly bookmark--about immigration here: http://leviticustwentyfour22.blogspot.com/

Eleanor said...

That our government is now unabale to protect us from crime and disease brought on by unfettered immigration is an example of Congressional fear of their special-interest patrons.

It's an outrage!

Anonymous said...

So I guess because Dobbs may have been wrong about the number of leprosy cases, we should just open the borders and not worry about disease brought by immigrants, especially illegals. Right? Is that your point? Is his mistake here supposed to somehow discredit the rest of his arguments? (In any case, Americans shouldn't need an argument to be against -- allowing it is optional.)

BTW, what about immigrants and TB?

But more importantly, after years of playing extremely loose with facts and figures...

Such as? You cite one example. Got any others?

...Dobbs took time out of his nightly hate-fest...

Uh-huh.

No one needs to 'play loose with facts and figures' to make a solid case against current immigration patterns, especially illegal immigration. Most (by far) illegals are Hispanic. And it is statistical fact that, when compared to the existing US population, Hispanics are, on average, 1) significantly more likely to be criminal (especially violently), and 2) significantly less likely to do well in school (e.g. their HS graduation rate is appallingly bad). Since the influx of Hispanics is now so great (they have already passed Blacks as the largest 'minority' group) that it is, in some areas, bringing demographic change, given their very bad comparative demographic profile, it is natural to ask: How can all of that be a good thing? How can it possibly be a long-term benefit to the US?

Duke1676 said...

anonymous said:

Such as? You cite one example. Got any others?

Go to the top of this website and click "immigration facts" - there you will find a ton of studies and research done by REAl experts , with degrees in the actual fields they're writing about, that refute most, if not all of Dobbs' facts and figures.

Hispanics are, on average, 1) significantly more likely to be criminal (especially violently), and 2) significantly less likely to do well in school (e.g. their HS graduation rate is appallingly bad). Since the influx of Hispanics is now so great (they have already passed Blacks as the largest 'minority' group) that it is, in some areas, bringing demographic change, given their very bad comparative demographic profile,

Now explain to me again how this is not about "legal immigration " or being anti-Latino …but about "illegal immigration" as Lou so fondly likes to point out any time someone questions his motives.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

let them talk long enough, it always comes out. that's why i don't even assume otherwise when i write about it. it's clear what this ALIENZ thing is about. but these instances really help make examples. so thank you anonymous coward.

nice one, duke

Duke1676 said...

Nez,

But you've got to love the videos of the bruja vieja. She's like the poster child for wrinkled old racists. ...and that speech affectation...it's classic. It's amazing how all the ugly on the inside is so evident on the outside.

Anonymous said...

Now explain to me again how this is not about "legal immigration " or being anti-Latino …but about "illegal immigration" as Lou so fondly likes to point out any time someone questions his motives.

Huh? I never made that claim so I don't have to explain it to you. Sorry for the incovenience, but the demographic truths I cite are -- hold on to your hat -- facts about Latinos. Facts which apply whether they are here legally or illegally, immigrants or native born. Therefore, if you cite them, you are necessarily making a case against allowing this huge influx of Latino immigrants, legal and illegal, to continue. Simple facts and logical reasoning.

And to explain the obvious: the reason people like Dobbs are afraid of coming right out and saying that as a demographic group Latinos are disproportionately criminal (they definitely are) and fail to graduate high school or college in disastrously high numbers is that - ahem -- people (like you?) will call him a racist, bigot, xenophobe, nativist, etc etc. Such honest discussions about real group differences that cross racial/ethnic lines are pretty much impossible to have in the US today. Ask Charles Murray. It's politically correct racial sensitivity, and the consequences to one's public image or career for offending against it.

You really are about as intellectually dishonest about this as it is possible to be.

Anonymous said...

And regarding one of your "Immigration Facts":

Criminality increases with each successive generation as immigrant children assimilate into US society.

Yes, it does, significantly and disproportionately. Meaning that the rates for Latinos taken as a total demographic group, immigrants and native born, are far higher than those of Whites. To make it worse, on average Latinos have more children.

Pathetic.

Anonymous said...


Californians' per capita income will drop 11 percent over the first two decades of this century unless the state closes the educational gap of its expanding Latino population, a nonpartisan research center forecast in a report released today.

Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of the state's population and work force, and among the least-educated, said the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

According to 2000 census figures, in the 25-to-64 age group, 52 percent of Latinos lacked a high school diploma, compared with 8 percent of non-Latino whites, and 12 percent of Latinos had a college degree, compared with 46 percent of whites.


Why not add that link to your "Immigration Facts"?

Duke1676 said...

Such honest discussions about real group differences that cross racial/ethnic lines are pretty much impossible to have in the US today.

not really....they have those kind of discussions all the time at Stormfront and American Renaissance. Check em out...you'll feel right at home.

Duke1676 said...

As to the knowledge you gleaned from the "Immigration Facts"

Now I know the report you referred to is a whole 14 pages long with lots of charts and graphs and other confusing stuff… so I can see how you wouldn't want to read the whole thing ….it's not like you're still in school or something and have to read stuff to learn.

But if you did you, would have seen this explanation for the "paradox" of increased criminal behavior that accompanies increased assimilation

In addition, assimilation often entails incorporation into “minority” status in the United States, particularly among poor immigrants from non-European countries. As a result, the children and grandchildren of many immigrants—as well as many immigrants themselves the longer they live in the United States—become subject to economic and social forces that increase the likelihood of criminal behavior among other natives.
http://www.ailf.org/ipc/special_report/sr_022107.pdf

Now I realize your belief in eugenics makes you want to believe that "minority" status, discrimination, and poverty play no part in criminality… because it's a known fact that brown and black people are just genetically predisposed to criminal behavior, being inferior to you and all. …But the report says something different.

The Unapologetic Mexican said...

anonymous: isn't just a little...odd to you that you burn with such apparently intense feeling, yet it never translates into a power like Kindness or even, at the very very very very very least, courage to sign a got-damn internet name? ay dios mio! to live in such fear that not only are your politics based on them, but your online behavior reflects it to all who can see.

how embarrassing for you.

Anonymous said...

Now I realize your belief in eugenics...

You don't even know the meaning of the world "eugenics". Again: pathetic.

And I'm not interested in any pseudo-scientific 'explanations' about Latino criminality, or in running the US -- my home -- like some sort of social science experiment, hoping for the best. I'm interested in the practical, on the ground reality, e.g. helping to make sure more American communities don't have to establish gang task forces in their police departments. And one way to do that is to stop the floodtide of Latino immigration. I experienced 30 years of it in California -- I have seen and lived through enough.

to live in such fear that not only are your politics based on them, but your online behavior reflects it to all who can see.

A fine, persuasive logical argument you provide. Nothing but ad hominem.

More good news: California's high school graduation rate dropped to a 10-year low last year as a third of the Class of 2006 left without a diploma, according to state Department of Education numbers posted Friday.

Anonymous said...

Yo prefiero ignorar el odio de este hombre...es claro que o no tiene trabajo o no tiene nada mas importante que hacer.
How sad that with all of the gifts that we are given in life, and all of the good we could do with our days, some people choose to spend their time and energy spreading hate.

tomviolin said...

Quoting anonymous:

"So I guess because Dobbs may have been wrong about the number of leprosy cases, we should just open the borders and not worry about disease brought by immigrants, especially illegals. Right? Is that your point?"

What?!? That's quite a leap.

I think the "point" of this piece is simply that Lou Dobbs was factually wrong in his statements.

Why is it that, over and over, I see people looking for some secret underlying (usually extreme) "point" to discredit the reporting of simple facts? The immigration issue is a complex one with no easy answers. Exposing those people who are spreading lies, misstatements, and misleading information is an important way to keep the debate honest and open. It doesn't mean that there is any underlying "point."

All honest people from all sides of any debate should want to keep such debate honest and open. Anonymous apparently disagrees.

Anonymous said...

There is one lesson in the discussion of the Dobbs/leprosy controversy that is a good reminder, and that is that while we have the right of free speech we also have a corresponding responsibility. For me that responsibility includes being as accurate and clear as possible in the information I use to present my objections. If anyone or anything is going to be judged/condemned, etc., I believe ethically we MUST be as accurate as possible. Inaccuracy hurts the case made by those of us who have deep concerns about illegal immigration and what is happening to our nation. Let's all take this in stride and recommit to accuracy and ethics in our claims and how we use that information because there is so very much at stake. Personally, if I’m going to “win” this battle I want it to be because I was truthful and accurate rather because I choose poor information to suit my needs. We all deserve excellence no matter what side of the fence we're loccated on. Marybeth

The Watchman said...

CNN will never curtail the xenophobia and racism pervasive on the Lou Dobbs show until more Americans express our disapproval of Lou Dobb's antics by boycotting Lou Dobb's advertisers!
www.boycottdobbs.org

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't everyone whose ancestors immigrated here go back to there home country?

marelin said...

Madeleine Cosman is so over the top it is hard to believe that she is not a joke, a caricature created to poke fun at the positions she espouses. If she is for real, it’s very frightening. (Maybe I’ll be Madaline for Halloween . . . )