CBS lies again on veteran suicide data

December 02, 2007  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Weblog

"Contrary to Fumento's statement, the data, as well as the methodology used to collect and analyze it, have been available online for anyone to access." So writes Armen Keteyian, CBS's Chief Investigative Correspondent and the man behind the story that vets are killing themselves at twice the rate of non-vets.

Said Keteyian in his New York Post letter about my article, not my "statement." "Our investigative unit collected official suicide data for veterans from all branches of the military from 45 states" and had it independently analyzed by a University of Georgia biostatistics expert. Very basic data were online and I said so and my website links to it.

But "45 states sent us numbers" is not a proper explanation of methodology. It's also not changed by their having an outside bio-statistician look at their final numbers, insofar as he had no way of knowing what went into making those numbers - something CBS completely glossed over for obvious reasons.

Further, the methodology from each state would vary. What did CBS do to make this a proper meta-analysis?

Insofar as they used amateurs, even if they tried to be honest they couldn't be. And rarely does anybody ever accuse CBS of trying to be honest. Epidemiology is horribly complex. I've said it many times: After 20 years of writing about epidemiology, I can poke a hole in a bad epi study in five minutes. I can also detect that a ship is sinking in five minutes. But never would I deign to either design or build a ship. CBS took that step and was undeterred by the reality that nobody else out there came who has studied this issue got results indicating any increased suicide risk for veterans anywhere.

CBS's final word: "After the reports aired, Congressional [sic] hearings were requested," wrote Keteyian. Yes, because only Congress still believes anything aired on CBS. But gee, what if those hearings had been called by a Wisconsin Senator named Joe McCarthy . . .