Dobbs Blames 'Moronic' Salmonella Response on President Bush and 'His FDA'

     Searching high and low for someone to blame for contaminated tomatoes, CNN’s Lou Dobbs tried: imported produce; a “moronic” Food and Drug Administration; and finally, President George W. Bush.


     In the June 16 edition of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Dobbs slammed the FDA and the president for not controlling the salmonella outbreak.


     After claiming that the FDA is “led by complete moronic, unengaged incompetents” and calling them “idiots,” Dobbs proceeded to link the spread of salmonella to Bush. “As for this administration, were a responsible president at the helm of this country, I would wonder why he is not taking action, but then again, this is of course his FDA and his legacy.”


     The scaremongering segment featured an unidentified man who said, “I’m very concerned because, like, I remember years ago when there was a Tylenol scare, and this is like kind of the same thing where, like, you don’t know if this could be your last vegetable you eat.”


     Dobbs also suggested that Americans are very worried about imported foods. CNN reporter Louise Schiavone said, “Consumers are anxious in general … and worried in particular about imports, even though in this case we just don’t know whether the source was foreign or domestic.”


     After considering that imports were to blame, Schiavone informed viewers that according to the FDA, “the overwhelming majority of tomatoes consumed in the U.S. at the time of the salmonella outbreak were from inside the U.S. – central Florida – and outside the U.S. – Mexico.”


     The FDA is now investigating a particular restaurant chain that was linked to some cases of illness. Without facts to support what could just be a mere suspicion, the FDA will not reveal which chain is in question.


     “The FDA is pursuing the case of nine illnesses among customers at a restaurant chain,” said Schiavone. “The government, though, won’t identify the chain or even the location, and the Centers for Disease Control insists that no one chain [of] stores [or] restaurants is at the heart of this outbreak.”


     Dobbs was outraged.


     “The FDA, led by complete moronic, unengaged incompetents. The idea that they would sit there and say that they’re not going to reveal where a cluster of this outbreak occurred, this is arrogant beyond belief. Who in the world do these idiots think they are? Who do they think they’re working for?”


     Schiavone didn’t explain that a careless mention of a business’s name without proof of any responsibility for a problem could drastically damage that business. Instead, she egged on Dobbs: “Wouldn’t all of us like to know what the chain is?”


     The FDA, for its part, has stated that “the federal (principally CDC and the FDA) and state governments are working together to analyze samples from ill persons and product samples of tomatoes in an attempt to quickly identify the source(s) of the outbreak.”


     It also announced an initiative it has created to reduce any future outbreaks of salmonella known as the Tomato Safety Initiative. “This initiative is part of an ongoing, risk-based strategy to reduce foodborne illness by focusing food safety efforts on specific products, practices, and growing areas that have been found to be problematic in the past.”


     Dobbs declared the only solution was to clean house.


     “Congress should be removing everyone at the top of the FDA right now,” he said. “They should be just simply removed and get out of the way, because they’re not public servants, they’re not acting responsibly or intelligently or effectively.”


     The Business & Media Institute has carefully examined Dobbsian reporting as a mix of “news, debate and opinion” – at times blurred together – in the Special Report Trade Secrets.