Lou Dobbs has repeatedly asserted on his CNN show that there have been 7,000 cases of leprosy in the US over the previous three years. If true, that statistic would represent a stunning increase. Dobbs’ insinuation, of course, was that illegal immigrants are responsible for bringing an influx of deadly diseases across the border. (He prefaced the segment on leprosy by saying “The invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans…”)
That statistic would be alarming if true. But it’s not true. There have been 7,000 cases of leprosy over the past thirty years, not the past three years. Leprosy cases actually peaked in 1983, a fact which Dobbs has since mentioned on his show. (I guess he assumes that amounts to a correction.)
This carelessness with the facts would be troubling enough, except Dobbs also displays a brazen certainty when it comes to his accuracy. When questioned about his leprosy statistics on 60 Minutes, Dobbs replied “Well, I can tell you this. If we reported it, it’s a fact.” This is the tautology of idiots: I said it, so it must be true, since I only say things that are true. What Lou Dobbs needs is an injection of doubt.
Check out all of David Leonhardt’s excellent column on Dobbs.