Truth matters. History and context count. "You're entitled to your own opinions. You're not entitled to your own facts," the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously observed.
CNN's Lou Dobbs has migrated to a pre-eminent position in the debate on immigration in the U.S. Since he identifies himself as a journalist, he has a special responsibility to rely on facts and to correct misstatements of fact. CNN, which purports to be a news organization, touting itself as the "Most Trusted Name in News," has an equally strong obligation to its audience to tell the truth.
On March 28, 2006, Dobbs said on his show, "And it's costing us, no one knows precisely how much, to incarcerate what is about a third of our prison population who are illegal aliens." As it turns out, the number of noncitizens incarcerated in the U.S. federal and state prisons is closer to 6 percent, not 33 percent. Note that the 6 percent includes legal immigrants as well.
On April 14, 2005, Lou Dobbs opened his show by saying: "The invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans. Highly contagious diseases are now crossing our borders decades after those diseases had been eradicated in this country."
CNN correspondent Christine Romans filed a report, then told Dobbs, "There have been 7,000 [cases of leprosy] in the past three years." CBS' "60 Minutes" later challenged the fact, pointing out that there had actually been 7,029 cases reported over 30 years. When Lesley Stahl confronted Dobbs on the statistic, he defended it, saying: "Well, I can tell you this. If we reported it, it's a fact." [for more click on the heading]