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Thursday, May 31, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Lou Dobbs has responded to the NYT piece that I noted yesterday: An answer for my critics

Today’s New York Times column is primarily a personal attack on me, focusing on an ad-lib on the set of this broadcast uttered more than two years ago by Christine Romans on the number of cases of leprosy in this country — an unscripted ad-lib, not a report by the way. We’d never done a report on leprosy until we had to set this record straight a couple of weeks ago. That’s over four and a half years of reporting on that issue.

[...]

That columnist also said I gave air time to white supremacists, and mentions one by name: Madeleine Cosman, who wrote the article that Christine Romans used as a source for her later leprosy statement.

The fact is, I made a mistake, and I’ve said we would never have used her as a source if we had known of her controversial background two years ago, at the time of the offending ad-lib. But the columnist fails to note that his own paper wrote a glowing obituary of Madeleine Cosman when she died last year.

The problem is, he doesn’t directly address the bottom line, which was the presentation of the leprosy figures.

Indeed, despite all the bluster in the reply posted online and read on his show yesterday, about how the NYT was picking on something from an ad-lib, he was sticking by the numbers (and the usage of Cosman as a source) earlier this month (and I confirmed, via Lexis/Nexis, that the video below is from 5/7/07).

Again, here’s the video:

That doesn’t look like an ad lib to me–it looks like they were standing by the idea that there has been 7,000 leprosy cases in the last three years and it looks like standing by and affirming Cosman as a reputable source.

Notice that Dobbs’ reply provides no defense to his (or Roman’s) May 7th statement.

For those who don’t want to watch the video, here’s the transcript from Lexis/Nexis:

DOBBS: [...] 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. Madeline 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 the 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 — 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 secondly, far better reporting.

ROMANS: That’s what Dr. Cosman told us — Lou.

DOBBS: And, you know, in talking with a number of people, it’s also very clear, no one knows but nearly everyone suspects there are far more cases of that. It’s also, I think, interesting, and I think important to say, one of the reasons we screen people coming into this country is to deal with communicable diseases like leprosy, tuberculosis. The fact is, if we would just screen successfully, all of those diseases can be treated effectively, efficiently and relatively quickly.

ROMANS: And that’s why we raised the questions in the first place, asking some tough questions about this. And, you know, 7,000 cases, active cases of leprosy, by no means is 11 million, as Mark Potok suggested.

DOBBS: But you can’t say that to people so interested in the truth, as Mr. Potok obviously isn’t.

Well, they may not make up numbers, but they appear more than willing to report false ones.

This is really rather pathetic, especially for someone with a journalistic platform.

Dobbs does respond to the other allegations in the column, including alleged proof of a statement that he made about aliens in prisons. I have no looked up those numbers, so cannot comment at this time. To me the main issues was that of the leprosy numbers, since he continued to stand by them as of roughly three weeks ago and still has not fully corrected himself.

Orcinus also responds to Dobb’s “reply”.

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The views expressed in the comments are the sole responsibility of the person leaving those comments. They do not reflect the opinion of the author of PoliBlog, nor have they been vetted by the author.

2 Responses to “Dobbs’ Lame Reply”

  1. Now, for the facts Says:

    I just updated my post (at my name’s link) with some of the things that the NYT “reporter” forgot to add.

    I wonder, has this site ever offered a bit more of an in-depth analysis of this issue, perhaps attempting to figure out who profits from such Dobbs-bashing? The NYT article was quite widely spread, with dozens of blogs discussing it (very few critically) and over at Digg, there were around six submissions of various links to the article. I’ve seen lots of dupes at Digg, but that was pretty unique. Is there just a lot of pent-up rage against someone who opposes massive IllegalActivity and massive public and private corruption, or is there something else involved? If this site wants to do some real analysis, it should look into whose interests are served by things like the NYT article.

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I can’t speak to why others responded, although I don’t subscribe to any massive conspiracy theories.

    I responded because I had noted the leprosy story but had not yet responded to it. I have also long found Dobbs to be unimpressive, shall we say, on this issue (i.e., immigration).


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