As a respected news organization, CNN has a special responsibility to ensure the accuracy of its reporting, especially on an issue as important and volatile as immigration.
Unfortunately, CNN's Lou Dobbs fails to live up to this standard.
Despite being confronted with undisputed evidence to the contrary, Mr. Dobbs says he stands "100 percent behind" the claim that there have been 7,000 new cases of leprosy in the U.S. in recent years. What's more, he has attributed the increase to "unscreened illegal immigrants."
The source for Dobbs' leprosy claim is the late Madeleine Cosman – an anti-immigration zealot who once publicly stated that "most" Latino immigrant men "molest girls under 12, although some specialize in boys, and some in nuns."
The truth about leprosy is not in dispute. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that leprosy cases in the U.S. peaked in 1985 at 361 and have declined since, even as the number of undocumented immigrants in this country has increased dramatically.
It is irresponsible of Mr. Dobbs to rely on disreputable sources while ignoring credible information that does not support his views. Given the current anti-immigrant climate, it is dangerous to present false claims about a serious public health issue and demonize an entire group of people in the process.
This is not the first time that Mr. Dobbs has chosen to rely on dubious sources with a virulent anti-immigrant agenda. He has repeatedly given legitimacy to individuals and groups who promote wild, unsupported claims about immigration.
Given that Mr. Dobbs refuses to retract his leprosy claim, we believe it is CNN's responsibility to do so. We suggest that the appropriate place for the correction is the same place where the falsehood was told: on Mr. Dobbs' show.