Katrina Vanden Heuvel recently blasted Lou Dobbs at The Nation and Common Dreams. At issue were some potential factual errors Dobbs may in overstating the number of recent leprosy infections-and their connection to immigration.
My own comment
The 7,000 cases figure appears likely to be a lower bound.
From Sharon Lerner at the New York Times: "While there were some 900 recorded cases in the United States 40 years ago, today more than 7,000 people have leprosy, or Hansen's disease, as it is now called. ''And those are the ones we know about,'' said Dr. William Levis, attending physician at Bellevue Hospital's Hansen's Disease Clinic. ''There are probably many, many more.''"
Further in that article: "Most of those infected in this country are immigrants from global leprosy hot spots, like Brazil, India and the Caribbean.
But, in the past six years, Dr. Levis and his colleagues have proved that a handful of his patients — including a 73-year-old man from Queens who had never been out of the country and an elderly Jewish man from Westchester — have contracted leprosy here."
Is Dobbs biased? Perhaps, but major media sources are strongly biased in the opposite direction-selectively forgiving the mistakes of those that accept their agenda.
Much of that bias is related to their dependency on advertising revenue from major corporations-that are run by wealthy interests that tend to favor immigration.
I doubt CNN put Dobbs on the air with his message until they didn't think they could avoid doing so without loosing credibility. Is Dobbs' overall journalistic credibility different than the comparable media? Sadly, US media is in very bad state.
Sadly, Katrina Vanden Heuvel's essay is politically biased reporting using a dubious source.
The SPLC is little more a "Civil Rights Organization" than the the Bakker's PTL was a legitimate religious organization. Both of these dubious organizations greatly over spent on fund raising and executive salaries/perks.
The issue of human migration and infectious diseases is an important, politically charged issue. Is it really possible for conventional academic institutions to really look at this accurately? If not what are the costs/risks involved?
Journalists should be to try to create an environment in which hard-nosed accuracy on these issues is fostered and encouraged, and the overall quality of journalism is increased. Vanden Heuvel must also take it upon herself to identify fringe sources she uses-particularly in dealing with an issue in which wealthy interests are so heavily involved as immigration. It is relatively easy to find "legitimate" sources that cheer lead for the wealthy-and those that do not may have issues from sheer lack of resources. We must learn look at what the truth would be like without this bias-in an environment in which hard facts are hard to come by.