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FOX Business Show Asks: Will Terrorists Use Tuberculosis to Attack America?

Reported by Marie Therese - May 31, 2007 -

Honestly, Your World is getting downright funny. Yesterday (5-30-07), host Neil Cavuto actually parlayed a public health story about a guy with drug-resistant TB into not one, but two segments, beating the drums of fear every step of the way. How did he do this? By asking another one of his inane questions followed by "the Cavuto," a punctuation mark first identified by Jon Stewart. "The Cavuto" is a very special question mark - it makes totally absurd statements or opinions seem relevant and important- to FOX loyalists, at least! Here's a good example of a Cavuto: "Seagull Poops on Child's Head. Is Al Qaeda Recruiting Birds to Attack Our Shores?" Here's another one: "Could a Single Infected Terrorist Bring Down the Stock Market?" Cavuto devoted eight minutes of air time to just that question! With video.

His first guests were Col. Randall Larsen of the Center for Biosecurity at University of Pittburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and former District of Columbia homicide detective Rod Wheeler. They discussed the recent case of a man who has just been quarantined, who possibly infected airline passengers with a drug-resistant* strain of tuberculosis.

At one point Cavuto asked "If someone has this on a crowded flight, and coughs or sneezes, is that suddenly an attack in the making?" I kid you not. He really said that!

I thought to myself - in a moment of wicked disbelief - that Cavuto was actually going to suggest that we incarcerate the tuberculosis bacteria at Guantanamo and subject them to coerced interrogation!

Cavuto even produced a colorful map to show how the disease could infect the entire world!

While Col. Larsen, an expert in the topic of bioterrorism, scoffed at the concept that a single individual could infect a large section of the population, Rod Wheeler did his best to argue that Larsen was wrong, that there are diseases - like bird flu and Mad Cow - that can be carried by animals and are easily passed human to human. "These are the realities, whether we want to admit it or not," Wheeler said. "We have to be prepared for these things." Col. Larsen just shook his head in total disbelief.

The second segment featured Forbes on FOX regulars Mike Ozanian, Elizabeth Macdonald and Michelle Green, who were there to discuss whether or not a full-scale TB outbreak could cripple the economy if, as Cavuto pointed out, "people began avoiding mass transit and crowded malls."

Michelle Green jumped right in to agree with Cavuto's statement saying, "Definitely. If there was any sort of full-fledged epidemic of TB, would it affect the economy? Without a doubt. The United States and for that matter every industrialized nation depends on the free flow of goods and services. If there's anything that puts the brakes on that flow of goods and services, you're gonna end up with an economy in the toilet."

Neil Cavuto, Vice President for Business at FOX News, then made one of the stupidest comments I think I have ever heard.

CAVUTO: "Alright, still ... we had a record for the markets today, so if they were worried about it, they had a funny way of showing it, so is it a big deal?"

This guy is hopeless. This show is absurd. As was obvious from the rest of the discussion, the panel of "experts" phoned it in. What else can one say?

* Note: Typo corrected 5-31-07 2:09 PM EDT - MT