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Fact Checking Lou: The New York Times Reporter Wrote What?

Thursday, May 31, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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From yesterday’s New York Times story on Lou Dobbs:

The whole controversy involving Lou Dobbs and leprosy started with a “60 Minutes” segment a few weeks ago.

The segment was a profile of Mr. Dobbs, and while doing background research for it, a “60 Minutes” producer came across a 2005 news report from Mr. Dobbs’s CNN program on contagious diseases. In the report, one of Mr. Dobbs’s correspondents said there had been 7,000 cases of leprosy in this country over the previous three years, far more than in the past.

When Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” sat down to interview Mr. Dobbs on camera, she mentioned the report and told him that there didn’t seem to be much evidence for it.

“Well, I can tell you this,” he replied. “If we reported it, it’s a fact.”…

To sort through all this, I called James L. Krahenbuhl, the director of the National Hansen’s Disease Program, an arm of the federal government. Leprosy in the United States is indeed largely a disease of immigrants who have come from Asia and Latin America. And the official leprosy statistics do show about 7,000 diagnosed cases – but that’s over the last 30 years, not the last three.

The peak year was 1983, when there were 456 cases. After that, reported cases dropped steadily, falling to just 76 in 2000. Last year, there were 137.

“It is not a public health problem – that’s the bottom line,” Mr. Krahenbuhl told me. “You’ve got a country of 300 million people. This is not something for the public to get alarmed about.” Much about the disease remains unknown, but researchers think people get it through prolonged close contact with someone who already has it.

The reporter, David Leonart, nailed Lou.Fine.  It happens, and when you do five hours a week, it will happen more than once.  Hopefully Lou made a correction last night.

But Leonart wasn’t finished.  He threw in this line, from a New York Times reporter no ess:

The most common complaint about [Dobbs], at least from other journalists, is that his program combines factual reporting with editorializing.

No mention of who those other journalists are.  No notice of the fact Leonart was mixing factual reporting with editorializing. 

I don’t think Leonart was aware of the irony.  Not in the least.

How I love the MSM.

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