Imagine That -- Fact-Checking on TV

By John Miano on November 18, 2009

I just returned home from vacation. While doing the crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine I came across:

44 Across: Dobbs of CNN

That was a bit out of date. Lou Dobbs has left CNN. And the lunatic fringe is celebrating. Much of what is being written about Dobbs borders on libelous.

Yes, Lou is gone from CNN but he's still on the radio. I suspect that his severance agreement with CNN keeps him from going to a competitor immediately. After that expires, I expect we will see him back on TV in the very near future.

As one of those who have had the privilege of dealing with Lou Dobbs and his people over the years, I have a very different perspective. I can share one story that says it all about the true nature of the Lou Dobbs show.

Studies play important roles in the legislative process. They serve as the ammunition in the debates as they often provide the "facts" of the debate. Studies that provide attractive facts that fit the views of a news organization or politician will get quoted. The study provides insulation to those doing the quoting. If a "fact" later turns out to be ridiculous, a news organization can always say they were simply reporting on a study: The news organization make the errorĀ­, the study did.

The unfortunate reality is that anyone can do a study and that few news organizations question what is in them. Not so with Lou Dobbs.

Lou Dobbs has reported on my research here at the Center for Immigration Studies. Each time, it has been a heart-stopping experience.

For example, after doing an interview on my Backgrounder that compared the number of H-1B visas to job growth, I spent the next two days answering calls from Dobbs' producers and reporters. "John, it looks like you have an error here." The Dobbs team was going back to the original government data and checking my arithmetic.

Fortunately, there were no errors. In each case I was able to work through and demonstrate how the result was obtained.

It was only after they had worked through all the data and the numbers that Dobbs ran a story on the numbers reported in the Backgrounder.

Where the loonies saw in Lou Dobbs a twister of facts, I always saw a team that did a level of fact checking unmatched by anyone in the business.

I look forward to seeing Lou Dobbs on TV on a daily basisĀ­, something I feel certain will come.