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Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of “Democracy Now,” a serious radio and television news and analysis program, conducted an hour-long interview with nativist CNN host Lou Dobbs yesterday, and it was a doozie. Dobbs was pounded with questions about the bogus “facts” that he regularly trots out to demonize undocumented immigrants, such as his claim that a “third of our prison population” are “illegal aliens.” (As “Democracy Now” pointed out, the Justice Department says about 6% of state and federal prison populations are non-citizens. The government does not know what percentage of those non-citizens are undocumented.)
Dobbs’ chief reaction was to attack the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), whose Intelligence Report has carried a series of reports on Dobbs’ inaccuracies (see here, here, here and here), his promotion of racist conspiracy theories (see here), and the appearance of hate group members and leaders on his program (see here). (“Democracy Now” relied heavily on that SPLC research to confront Dobbs, who was plugging a new book.) Bizarrely, Dobbs responded to mention of his use of a white supremacist group’s graphic by noting that he had sent producers and reporters to SPLC’s Alabama offices in late 2004 “to make certain this sort of thing doesn’t happen.” But minutes later, he described the very same SPLC as “indulging in pure BS” in order to raise money. On his own show, he has called the SPLC a “fascist” group after SPLC criticized him. The whole thing was reminiscent of the way Dobbs last spring defended his false claim of immigrant-borne leprosy in an on-air debate with SPLC officials (see here).
This morning, “Democracy Now” invited Mark Potok, editor of the Center’s Intelligence Report, to respond to Dobbs’ comments and to discuss the magazine’s new cover story, which details an apparent surge in violent, anti-Latino hate crime.
Also today, The New York Times reported that Dobbs was planning to add a three-hour daily radio program to his CNN show, “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” and his post as a commentator on CBS’ “The Early Show.” Dobbs characterized his radio show in this eyebrow-raising comment to the Times: “My interest is in bringing a voice of reason, rather than the partisan and ideological poles that define talk radio right now.”