Opinion: Lou Dobbs watch, vol. II


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Lou Dobbs is the gift that keeps on giving. You’d think it couldn’t get much better than his non-fact-checked column last week on the immigration protests and Law Day. Quick recap: Lou wrote that no major media outlets to his knowledge reported that May 1 was Law Day; I pointed out that The New York Times ran an editorial that day titled ‘Law Day.’

Alas, it is I, not Lou, who is wrong—per his own fiat. In a back-and-forth with Lesley Stahl last night on 60 Minutes, the CNN anchor declared that anything he reports is fact. The provocation? Stahl confronted Lou on his show’s report that absurdly linked the increase in leprosy cases in the U.S. (7,000 new cases in three years!) to all those dirty, diseased illegal immigrants invading America. Turns out the huge increase in American lepers never happened—the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said (and 60 Minutes told Lou) that there have been 7,000 new leprosy cases here over the last 30 years, not three. (Click here to read about the exchange and watch the video.)


Perhaps I should have a little more confidence in Lou. This is the man, after all, who debated our own L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a year ago on CNN and trumpeted his own honesty in the illegal immigration debate:

DOBBS: Look. The mayor has different constraints than I do. He is a good man with the interests of the people of Los Angeles at heart. I’m sure that we could come up with some considerable agreement. But I don’t—I have a different set of constraints on me. My constraints are to be honest, straightforward and as accurate as possible ... VILLARAIGOSA: I don’t need the last word I just want to say to you that I think this is a debate that needs to be civil, it’s a debate that needs to center around the idea of what is best for the American people but also what is best for the values that this country was built on. DOBBS: May I just put in one value that’s critical? Honesty. I’ll even pass on civility as long as we’re honest.

An aside: Stahl doesn’t get off that easily. Eleven years before she confronted Lou over his less-than-factual reporting and declared, ‘Reporters don’t take on issues; reporters report issues,’ Stahl ‘took on’ a topic herself—the unproved claim United Nations sanctions in the 1990s led to the death of half a million Iraqi children. (Read Matt Welch’s article in Reason.)