Lou Dobbs Commemorates Thanksgiving with a Hatchet, and a Turkey

By November 23, 2005Dobbs Watch

Dobbs WatchAs regular blog readers know, we’ve kinda laid off Lou Dobbs these days as he continues to run the same show day in and day out, and as his air time continues to dwindle. In fact, our last piece, “Lou Dobbs Jumps the Shark” was the first thing we had written in a while, as he becomes more and more of a shill for the AFL-CIO and their issues. Heck, we can duel with them directly without going through Lou.

Well, we started getting a few comments on Wednesday on our “Jumps the Shark” entry and wondered what was up. We should preface this all by saying that Lou’s off the air this week, so his minions have taken over, but they are clearly sprung from his loins as their stuff looks frighteningly like his. Something in the water up there, we guess. (Who knows? Maybe they’re drinking out of the Hudson River….)

In any event, as you know, we unveiled our 2005 Skills Gap Survey on Tuesday which we recounted below. The beauty of this issue (up ’til now, that is) is that in a city so polarized, this is one topic that seems to unite folks from both ends of the spectrum, i.e., the need for skills in our manufacturing workplace.

So we checked out the transcript from Dobbs’ Tuesday show and found this whopper:

“A new study finds fault with American workers for this country’s manufacturing decline.” When the story ran, it ran with the banner, “Manufacturers Blame Factory Workers for Job Loss”.

How on earth anyone could glean this nugget from this study is beyond anyone who actually read it — or who even read the Executive Summary. Dobbs’ show went on to interview the left-leaning (although they forgot to add that appellation) Economic Policy Institute as saying, “A lot of times when employers are saying we can’t find the skilled workforce they need, the unspoken part of that is, not at the pay raise [they presumably said “rate”] we’re offering.”

Do these people live in the same manufacturing country that we do? Manufacturing workers’ pay is some 20% higher than the average pay. They’re well-paid because they are the best manufacturing workers in the world, plain and simple. Our manufacturers find and keep the best talent by providing top of the line pay and benefits packages. What world do these other folks live in? They need to go talk to a real manufacturer.

Dobbs’ folks threw in some guy from the AFL-CIO (at least we know where they’re coming from) who says that manufacturers cut back on training when times get tough. Actually, that’s not true, but in a mountain of so much stuff that wasn’t true, it was just one more near-fact tossed in the pile.

So Jerry Jasinowski, President of the Manufacturing Institute, the sponsors of the study, was set to go on Dobbs’ show on Wednesday night, a full day after they had stacked the deck against him and made this non-partisan study into an “us vs. them” story. At the last minute, Jasinowski had to decline. And so in Wednesday’s transcript is this gem:

Now, we had hoped to continue our discussion of the competitiveness of American workers with Jerry Jasinowski, the president of the National Association of Manufacturers (sic). However, Mr. Jasinowski today decided to cancel his appearance on this program.

It should be pointed out that NAM sponsors a blog that continually derides this show’s anchor and its reporting and repeatedly calls for opposing positions to be aired.

Now, we had hoped to do just that before Mr. Jasinowski’s change of heart. For the record, we stand by Lisa Sylvester’s report and our invitation to Mr. Jasinowski remains open.”

For the record, they really weren’t having a “discussion of the competitiveness of American workers.” And furthermore, by no stretch of the imagination did the study, “find fault with American workers for this country’s manufacturing decline.” Far from it. As you can see from this summary, it was all pretty forward-looking, identifying problems and offering solutions — not blaming anybody.

Looks like Lou decided to offer up a turkey a little early. Suffice it to say that the press coverage of this study was overwhelming, and overwhelmingly positive. For some reason, only Lou Dobbs’ show drew this conclusion. If we didn’t know any better, we’d almost think that either they didn’t read the study, or they had an agenda.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    It is a difficult proposition to go into hostile waters, knowing that your side of the story may not be heard. You may be shouted down. However, I agree with Kelly, NAM accepting the invitation and then canceling (for whatever reason) does appear to be weak.

    Since Dobbs claims the offer is open any time… NAM should consider going on the show and trying to get the point across. There is some value in the experiement, and if Dobbs acts as predicted, many will see attack-dog antics for what they are. Many will just hear what they beleive to be true anyway.

    Positioning a story – any story – with the premise that the employer is evil, out to get the little guy, and delighted in the prospect of layoffs has become a cultural given. Everyone knows that people in the “front office” spend all day plotting how to screw everyone else who works in the company. Read that last line with heavy sarcasm.

    I agree TOO many companies are run with an eye to the bottom line, and forget everything else.

    But there are companies out there who truly care about the welfare of the people (and their families) that work with them. Many companies are desperately trying to find skilled people, and are having a terrible time filling the pipeline with young talent because all the vocational programs centering on machinist skills are being canceled. And as far as pay rates, you can pay someone $100 an hour…. and if they are not properly trained as a machinist, you get $8 worth of value! Money in the form of pay is not always the answer.

    This country is at a crossroads. We can decide to change the perspective of manufacturing as a dirty, dead end, unskilled avenue, OR we can see real value that manufacturing companies provide: that working to build products that people need, paying taxes and payrolls to support local schools, fire departments,and the local small businesses.

    If we don’t do something soon about the cultural attitude AGAINST manufacturing as a career choice, the list of companies that close up shop completely – forget move overseas – just completely throw in the towel will get longer and longer.

  • Pat Cleary says:


    You raise some good points, but it’s true that manufacturing workers — line workers — on average make about 20% more on average than non-manufacturing workers. Our employment has dropped, that’s true, but our output is at an all-time high.

    And you are right that it’s not wages. We have a 22% cost disadvantage vs. our trading partners on things like legal costs (the highest in the world by a big factor) and the highest natural gas prices in the world, and we spend more on environmental compliance than any of our competitors.

    Still, we don’t need help from the government. We didn’t get here with help from the government.What we need is for the government to get out of our way and to let US mfrs do what they do best, and that’s to compete. If anything, gov’t (the Congress) needs to lift the tax and regulatory burdens and do something about legal costs and open up new sources of energy to do something about energy prices. That’s no “help” per se, it’s just un-doing the damage that’s been done over the past three decades.

    Thanks for writing.

  • Joseph Joyal says:

    With companies exporting manufacturing jobs over the last 20 plus years it has become harder for the skilled workers to find a job with a future, look at the Delphi comments on how they plan to stay in business, shut down US plants, cut labor pay and go overseas for products.
    This trend has been occuring for several years and is not going away.
    If we are going to keep a strong country we will have to get relief from our own government, OSHA, Medicare, SSI, EPA, property taxes … the cost of doing business is just to high and it is not labor that is driving these costs.
    With healthcare so out of control why isn’t industry opening their own system, or push harder for cost controls. The Auto industry pounds their parts suppliers in to submition but put little pressure on healthcare.
    Dobbs stated that manufacturing wages are 20% above average, this is a very distorted veiw when you include the millions that top execs get, most manufacturing jobs are near the poverty level of pay, the local gas station pays as mush as Lockheed Martin starts machinist at look and the help wanted adds see how many manufacturing jobs are paying $7-$8/hour it is a real shame and should not leave anyone to wonder why our young people are not going into the manufacturing field. There is just no future.

  • Pat Cleary says:


    A valid point, but if you see Tuesday’s story, read the transcript, it was a hatchet job. This is not a story in which there are “sides”. And, as folks can tell you, nobody wins by going on Lou’s show and getting shouted down. Teeing up the story in the way they did, Jerry Jasinowski would have been left to rebut, in essence, the question of “When did you stop beating your wife?” That cheapens the message of the study. To make matters worse, it was one day later.

    Also, in light of the enormous public response to the study from every other (press) quarter, at the end of the day, it just wasn’t worth his time.

    Thanks for writing.

  • Kelly says:

    Regardless of the publicly well-received tone of the study, and regardless of being “put off”, a professional would have shown up for the show.
    If Dobbs has an evil agenda, why don’t you go on and expose it to the nation ?

    NAM came across as weak, and as having something to hide. You blew it.