Wednesday, May 30, 2007

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Lou Dobbs is a big fat liar

New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt does a public service and fact-checks Lou Dobbs. The results are not pretty (a fact that will not surprise longtime readers of

His conclusion:

The most common complaint about him, at least from other journalists, is that his program combines factual reporting with editorializing. But I think this misses the point. Americans, as a rule, are smart enough to handle a program that mixes opinion and facts. The problem with Mr. Dobbs is that he mixes opinion and untruths. He is the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.

There is no denying that this country’s immigration system is broken. But it defies belief — and a whole lot of economic research — to suggest that the problems of the middle class stem from illegal immigrants. Those immigrants, remember, are largely non-English speakers without a high school diploma. They have probably hurt the wages of native-born high school dropouts and made everyone else better off.

More to the point, if Mr. Dobbs’s arguments were really so good, don’t you think he would be able to stick to the facts? And if CNN were serious about being “the most trusted name in news,” as it claims to be, don’t you think it would be big enough to issue an actual correction?

[What if Dobbs relied on political science research instead?--ed.] He would find even less empirical support.

The farm lobby is cracking up, the New York Times is beating up on Lou Dobbs.... oh, I'm going to enjoy this summer.

UPDATE: Dobbs responds to Leonhardt here. As near as I can interpret it, Dobbs concedes the facts but claims Leonhardt is exaggerating their portent. Then there's this puzzler:

[T]he columnist writes that I suggested that new immigration reform bill would be the first step to a North American union. Nope. What I did say is that the proposed legislation, favored by President Bush and Senator Kennedy and others who are misguided, contains language in Section 413 that, if approved by Congress, would endorse and legitimize the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, which is the foundation of this administration's efforts to create a North American union, and which would further threaten, in my opinion, our national sovereignty.
I checked out the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America's website. The front page has yet to update the fact that Vicente Fox is no longer president of Mexico. A good rule of thumb: organizations with outdated web sites aren't threats to national sovereignty.

Here's a link to the SPP "myths vs. facts" page. If Dobbs is scared by this initiative, then he should really just go and buy his shack in Montana right now -- because there are dozens of other arrangements already on the books where the U.S. has ceded more sovereignty.

I hereby triple-dog-dare Lou Dobbs and his supporters -- name me one provision of the SPP that truly compromises American sovereignty.

David Weigel also has some fun at Dobbs' expense.

posted by Dan on 05.30.07 at 11:09 PM


CNN has an article up today by Dobbs. Contrite isn't a word that comes to mind when one reads it.

Whatever the opposite of contrition is, that's what he delivers.


posted by: Rofe on 05.30.07 at 11:09 PM [permalink]

Well as long as the middle class isn't affected.

posted by: bjaked on 05.30.07 at 11:09 PM [permalink]

Actually, when it comes to the prison population issue, Leonhardt is guilty of far worse deception than Dobbs. When discussing the prison numbers, Lou referred to the "federal prison" population while Leonhardt used the number for federal and state combined (6%). According to Leonhardt's own citation (the Dept of Justice pdf linked in his article) the actual number for federal as of 2005 is 19%. 19% is not 6%. If Lou said federal, Leonhardt should also use federal, to do otherwise is dishonest. Why did Leonhardt decide to use the 6% federal-state number rather than the comparable 19% figure? Presumably because it’s more dramatic and makes Lou look crazy. Secondly, Lou made his statements in 2003 (follow Leonhardt’s link and check the date). If Leonhardt had to cite 2005 data in 2007 (as he did), we can assume that Lou had to cite 2001 data in 2003. Again, according to Leonhardt's own citations, the 2001 figure would be even higher, around 27% (check the side bar “Related Information” in the online NY Times article). This is not a defense of Lou Dobbs; I disagree with him on this and many other issues. But I'm irritated that Leonhardt is so obviously misrepresenting reality and misleading readers. It's especially ironic given the point of the article. Check Leonhardt's data in the sidebar "Related Information" and the pdf file from the DOJ he linked to. The guy's intellectually dishonest.

posted by: Craig on 05.30.07 at 11:09 PM [permalink]

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