CBS: Advocacy bad; dishonest advocacy OK

Gen. John Batiste gets fired as a CBS analyst for advocating an end to the occupation of Iraq; Lou Dobbs gets hired for advocating mass deportation, and doing so with invented “facts.” Your liberal media at work.

“Advocacy” will get you fired by CBS News. That’s what happened to Gen. John Batiste.

Unless, of course, it’s nativist advocacy based on “facts” borrowed from a junk-science journal, as practiced by Lou Dobbs.

Footnote The American Journal of Physicians and Surgeons was last seen publishing what turned out to be bogus results on the now-discredited claim that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. It’s published by the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons &#8212 not to be confused, though presumably intended to be confused, with the highly respectable American College of Physicians and Surgeons. AAPS has joined the Family Research Council, among others in a lawsuit to force the FDA to take the Plan B contraceptive off the market (along with the Family Research Council and the Concerned Women for America).

The author of the purported “study” had a Ph.D. in comparative literature and a law degree, but no medical, public-health, statistical, or scientific training whatever, and a long history of right-wing, and specifically nativist, activism.

h/t Orcinus, via C&L

Update No comment yet from either CBS or CNN. The Wall Street Journal’s “Numbers Guy” blog has some of the actual data and tries to trace the sources of the invented “fact.”

A reader did some additional searching and found that the American of Association Physicians and Surgeons was also involved in the Terri Schiavo agitation. He’s done a cite check of the article, and none of the citations supports the claim Dobbs quoted.

He’s also found a nice graphic from the Centers for Disease Control.


Compare this with Dobbs’s claim of “7000 cases in the last three years.”

I think this is worth continuing to pound on. For Dobbs to make such a silly mistake, and to go with the story without having fact-checked it, was disgraceful. For him to insist that his mistake became the truth the moment he said it, and that a citation in a pseudo-scientific journal is proof, suggests that he’s either too dumb to live or too dishonest to rate the megaphone CNN and CBS are giving him.

I’m sure he gets a huge audience. But that shouldn’t be all that counts, should it?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: