The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

SPLC Asks CNN to Remove Dobbs

By Mark Potok on July 24, 2009 - 11:57 am, Posted in Extremist Propaganda

As regular readers of this blog know, we’ve had a tangle or two with CNN’s in-house immigrant-basher, Lou Dobbs. In 2007, we had a major dustup with the host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight” over his wholly false claim that 7,000 new cases of leprosy had appeared in a recent three-year period in the United States, due at least in part to immigrants. (The reality was that about 400 new cases appeared during the period, and it’s not known if any of them were linked to immigrants.) The battle subjected Dobbs a series of humiliations, including being described by The New York Times as a man with “a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”

To the surprise of very few familiar with Dobbs, the CNN host is at it again. Now, he’s joined with the conspiracy nuts pushing the wholly unsubstantiated claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and therefore cannot legally hold the office of president. The fact that this claim has been disproved by CNN’s own reporters seems to mean nothing at all to Dobbs, who has come in for criticism in recent days from all kinds of quarters for joining hands with the “birthers.”

Today, Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, sent a letter to CNN President Jonathan Klein asking for action. “Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda,” Cohen concludes in his letter. “It’s time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves.”

Cohen also wrote Klein in 2007 about Dobbs’ leprosy claims, but CNN took no action. Dobbs has also promoted a series of other falsehoods and conspiracy theories about immigrants.

Submit your thoughts to CNN.

  • Potter


    You are either lying or had the most stupid bureaucrat in America. My daughter and I both have birth certificates that were original. Mine, which was hand written has all kinds of info on it. My daughters doesn’t even have her time of birth. These certificates were 24 years apart and in different states. Now, both of us have ordered and received the Certificate of Live Birth that we have needed for official stuff like our passports, school, etc. I keep the originals in a safe deposit box. I cannot ever get a copy of the original as they have all been destroyed and the pertinent info computerized. ( Do we really need to record my mothers “profession” as a homemaker?) When you order birth certificates today, You get a certificate of live birth. I know this not only from my personal experience, but it is my job to help my clients obtain theirs for official govt. business.
    I was not, and none of my passport carrying friends have EVER been asked for a “birth picture”. Also, we never had “official birth pictures” taken. This is just plain silliness.

    Lastly, If you are a college professor, you are painfully ignorant of your country and its citizens. I guess you only took one history class that missed a few bits. The Dominican Republic was once briefly occupied by the US, but was never a territory or other “holding” of the US. Puerto Rico, however is. Puerto Ricans, as were Hawaiians for over 100 years have been and are full legal citizens. In case you don’t remember even the historical movies about Pearl Harbor, We considered the island US soil. It’s citizens were US citizens.

    BTW, My Puerto Rican born father in law was stationed in Hawaii as he served as a Lt. Col. in the US Air Force. You gonna tell him he’s not a real citizen too?

  • Liesl

    What do you teach, how to write as if you are absolutely not a college professor?

  • http://community.Webtv.Net/tkwrite/WhyavoteforObama Reggie Cornejo

    I love this argument. Of who or what is citizen of the US. I am a college professor, yes, just like Mr Obama, and a minority, just like Obama, but this is where I part company from this man that is too vague and elisive for my comfort. I grew up wanting to be a “Muck Raker” when I first learned about these reporter heroes of the days when America stood for laws and citizens who obeye them. I grew up believing that breaking laws was not good for our country or the people. Thanks to politicians like Cheney, Obama and others, breaking the law now seems to be the acceptable norm, much like the later days before the Roman Empire fell. IF Mr Obama is a LEGAL citizen, in my book, he has not shown me enough to prove it. And, I quote, from legal resources, “We need your daughter’s county stamped full birthcertificate before we an issue a US passport so your daughter can leave the US and travel to Japan. What was my mistake? I had sent the US Department of Passports, my daughter’s Ceritificate of live birth that showed the same info as OBama’s and even her birth picture. According to this department of the US government, “a certificate of live birth is not a legal document to get a US Passport. So, unless Obama shows me his real long typed long form Birth Certificate, he is a fake American, so says the US government. One more thing, Obama took a full year before he registered for the Draft, so he broke the law by not registering. One more thing, if Obama was born in Hawaii in before 1958 (when Hawaii was NOT a state), then he is not a US citizen just like people who are born in the Domincan Republic a holding of the US, like Hawaii was when Obama was born, which according to Obama was not 1961 but 1957. SO, from my newspaper type research, this man is an immigrant, sorry, but facts are facts, and America has been robbed yet, another law breaker. But heck, America is now made up of students who cheat in school, people who lie on their taxes, people who cheat on their partners, people who lie to their God, People who want to make America an Un-Christian nation, and a government that serves the ones with the most money and anyone who is willing to buy a politician’s vote, and a court system that favors law breaking illegal immigrants who come to America to destroy her. I figure America will be dead by the year 2020. Sorry, but if history taught me anything in college, it’s that history does repeat itself. We are another Rome, that is headed to the end.

  • Potter

    I have to add to the discussion about the “birthers” and make an important distinction between the two different types of birthers.

    The first and most problematic are the ones like Dobbs and the Republicans who do know better and are using the same tactics they used to go to wars, pass the Patriot Act, rile the masses into being afraid of death panels instead of having a fair discussion on health care. They KNOW they truth and distort and LIE to get what they want. I think that they are guilty of treason.

    The other birthers are people who are ignorant and believe the authority figures who are lying to them. It is hard to understand how people can be so ignorant, but they are. Some even think that they are doing “research” on the internet to prove they are right. Of course they don’t know HOW to do proper research and do find LOTS of sites claiming what they keep hearing. My neighbor is a lay birther. He REALLY doesn’t understand how the world works. He isn’t stupid either. He’s just woefully ignorant of almost everything that could help him come to a good judgment. I tried to explain the truth, and he was willing to listen to me respectfully. He is still not sure he can believe me because I am just his neighbor. In my argument to him I am battling Fox, CNN, Republican leadership, his friends and his preacher. It sure would be easier if it was only his friends and preacher.

  • aaarg

    There is a new group out there called the deathers. It’s led by senator grassley of iowa.

    They claim that obama’s health care plan will have a death panel to decide which senior citizens should live or die.

    Pass the laughing gas.

  • mountaingirl08

    Ronda, I reread my sentence and I thought I am really going to have to proofread what I print, as my thoughts are not ignorant and parochial as my ref. was to Palin’s ignorance and so on.

  • mountaingirl08

    Ronda, you forgot ignorant and parochial (my thoughts).

  • mountaingirl08

    The birthers are shrill slack-jawed, drooling knuckledraggers, and that is on a good day.
    They don’t really believe that nonsense about Obama’s birthplace. They can’t be so stupid as to believe the b.s. In reality they hate Obama; they hate his race, they hate his party and his politics. That is the real reason behind all the hoopla. They know the truth, but they do not let reality interfere w. fiction..,

  • mountaingirl08

    These “birthers” are a bunch of loose cannons. Don’t they have anything better to do than to trash the prez.? Are they so superficial, so ignorant? By the way, the document they reference in hurling defamatory statements at Obama, is a forgery.

  • Ronda

    Snorlax – Consider yourself defied –

    Olbermann on June 13, 2009

    In a twelve minute segment about the former vice presidential candidate, Olbermann called her, “Sanctimonious, holier than thou, exploitative, undignified, pedantic, childish, self-inflicting, insipid, backwards, embarrassing, over-reactive, overreaching” as well as a “delusional lunatic.”

  • Don Quixote

    You got two out of five right tbow002. SPLC is indeed subversive. Thank God for that! And yes, I suppose they’re left-wing since lately, the right wing has become the Angry White Male Party.

    Racist? You’ll have to explain how fighting against racism makes one racist. Anti-American? No, not everyone who you disagree with is anti-American. Having and expressing opposing views is probably what distinguishes America most from other nations. It’s a foundational value. If you are against that, that would make you anti-American by definition.

  • aaarg

    “The SPLC is a subversive, radical, left-wing, racist, anti-american organization…”

    Hey goober, did you just get through listening to limbaugh?

  • tbow002

    The SPLC is a subversive, radical, left-wing, racist, anti-american organization…

  • Liesl

    “I guess my arguments are so cogent that the moderators here have to censor me left and right.”

    I call bullshit.

  • David

    I guess my arguments are so cogent that the moderators here have to censor me left and right.
    please stop erasing my comments… it doesn’t help your cause at all.

  • awhippingflame

    In our mad rush to judge Lou Dobbs as a ‘conspiracy nut’, we missed the real story; which is, that the ‘birther’ issue is a rapidly growing trend that works against Obama. It gives the appearance of unpresidentiality. Therefor, we should ALL ask President Obama to demonstrate a little transparency and quell the concerns of so many good Americans. Doesn’t that make sense to you?

  • Snorlax

    “You people need to stick to the facts and grow up.”‘

    No, you birthers need to stick to the facts and grow up.

    You’re a bunch of lying crybabies.

  • Snorlax

    David, you’re still wrong.

    The state of Hawaii issued a certificate of live borth which is on the internet. Although this is the so-called “short form” birth certificate, it is genuine and is regarded as a legal birth certificate

    When I got my passport, I wrote my state for my birth certificate and they sent me the short form. The feds had no problem accepting it as genuine.

    I have seen absolutely no evidence of your assertion that Obama paid a million to suppress his birth certificate. And he has provided a short form, which is legally acceptable. So he is not suppressing anything.

    David, your birther garbage is the only thing in here that is uncalled for. You are a fool like Dobbs.

  • David

    Look- at first I laughed at the claims of the ‘birthers.’ It was the behavior of Obama and his supporters that made me research this.
    Their behavior makes them look guilty- the shrill cries of racism, the expenditure of a million dollars to hide a document, the reliance on a sympathetic institute for verification of another document, the steadfast refusal to stay on topic, or personally attack questioners, etc.

  • David

    You people need to stick to the facts and grow up. My letter to my senator asked him to refute the pro -“birther” argument. instead he almost confirmed the pro birther argument.

    Going “OOOOOHH” and giggling is uncalled for.

  • Snorlax

    “The document his campaign put online is not the long form birth certificate.” So what.

    The short form one is just as legal as the original. When I wrote for my birth certificate for my passport, they sent me the short form. The feds had no trouble accepting it as genuine.

    They sent it back to me with my new passport. I’m looking at it right now. But I guess it doesn’t count and I was really born in Kenya, not Connecticut. LOL!

    Obama WAS born in Hawaii. The state verified this with the short form certificate of live birth, which is just as legal as the original long form.

    You birthers are all insane.

  • Snorlax

    “a personal letter to me from my US senator very strongly implies that Obama does not have proper US citizenship”

    Ooooooh, very STRONGLY impllies…LOL!!!

  • Snorlax

    Birthers are all cuckoo bananas.

    They’re proving it in here.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    David, we do know he was born in Hawaii because his birth certificate has been certified by several parties. His birth was announced in the two papers.

    Burden of proof is on you to show he was born in Kenya. Since you allege that a Kenyan ambassador claims he was, and that his grandmother said so, you go ahead and provide the sources for those claims.

  • Mauka

    I say boycott ALL the tv networks and get your news on the internet! Hit them where it HURT$!!!

    This used to be the land of freedom but it’s turning like China!

  • David

    We dont know if he was born in Hawaii or not. The document his campaign put online is not the long form birth certificate. The primary document still exists, and only two or three people have been allowed to see it, its not “online”. Obama could end most of this right now by acting appropiately…He can issue an executive order and release the document to the general public. Instead, he acts in a very suspicious manner by doing everything he can to prevent legal discovery.

  • Snorlax

    “Obama has broken just about every campaign promise he made- he loaded his cabinet with lobbyists; the same individuals who took the rules down that allowed the banking crisis to erupt were put into positions where they are suppose to try to fix the economy that they themselves damaged ( Summers, Cass,
    Geithner )…
    Obama is a slave- a slave to special Wall Street interests- Just like the usurper Bush. Obama proved this by giving the big banks trillions, and then refusing to hold them fully accountable”

    I agree. I voted for Cynthia McKinney the Green candidate, because Obama (and most Dems) sold us out by voting for the Bush Bailout last October.

    However, Obama IS a natural born American citizen and you are wrong to suggest otherwise.

    If you don’t like Obama’s sellout economic policy, fine. But making up garbage about Obama will backfire on you.

    Republicans have NO chance of beating Obama in 2012 if they persist with these “birther” LIES.

  • Snorlax

    “Journalists must tell the truth AND cite their sources, and we should accept nothing less. Public commentors need to either state their comments to be personal opinions, or tell the entire truth.”

    As a former journalist, I agree.

    Unfortunately, FOX News has already gotten a court ruling that it is OK for them to knowingly LIE on their newcasts. Until this is overturned, we have no legal protection from their lies. The FCC refuses to regulate this.

  • Snorlax

    “I would bet money you didn’t write a letter to the head of NBC regarding David Letterman and his sick joke about Sarah Palin’s 14 year old daughter did ya?”

    The joke was about Palin’s OLDER daughter, who is an adult. Another Reich Wingnut LIE.

  • Snorlax

    Why won’t Obama produce his birth certificate? Why has he spent ove $800,000 to fight having to produce it?

    More Reich Wingnut LIES. Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate has been available online for some time, and the original has been verified as authentic.

    Put down the meth pipe.

  • Snorlax

    Keith Olberman does NOT engage in hate speech and I defy anyone to prove otherwise. This is just another LIE from the Reich Wingnut Racists.

  • David

    Obama and his supporters are helping to create this issue- by not insisting that the primary document be released to the general public. A presidential executive order can override any Hawaiian law.

    Obama is spending millions of dollars to prevent legal discovery. He behaves like someone who has something to hide. Release the document, and quell the tempest.

    The 1898 law cited refers to aliens being able to convey citizenship…in this case, we have the reverse situation- its not about Obama’s dad in Hawaii, but a US citizen possibly in Kenya.
    Obama’s mom could not convey citizenship, US law at the time would not allow her to do so- she was too young and lacked enough residency. Nobody knows if Obama was born in Hawaii or not.
    The Kenyan ambassador says Obama is Kenyan, Obama’s grandmother says he is Kenyan by birth, and a personal letter to me from my US senator very strongly implies that Obama does not have proper US citizenship. All these people are Obama supporters. Are they mistaken liars?

    Fuel is on the fire, put there by Obama himself. Since the issue is uncertain, Dobbs has the right to ask questions.

  • Liesl

    Reading the comments on this post makes me despair for humanity.

  • Potter

    I think to those who feel that Dobbs Constitutional rights are in jeopardy if CNN would fire him need to understand that CNN is not bound to keep ANYONE on their airwaves. He is allowed, as are the rest of us to say anything he wants. He does NOT have a Constitutional RIGHT to being on TV anymore than the rest of us.
    WE, however do have the right to tell TV stations what we want from them. In fact they spend big bucks sometimes to know what we are thinking. WE are their customers and we have a right to ask for what we want.

  • Deborah de Santos

    I was under the understanding that Barack Obama’s mom was an American – a Dunham in fact. Is that incorrect? Wait a minute . . . do you mean to tell me that a woman who is an American citizen can not give birth overseas and have that child be an American citizen?

    Okay, if that is so we need to keep all women who are citizens from leaving this country till they hit menopause or are sterilized. The risk to their child’s future is too great if they should happen to give birth someplace other than in the US and then come back to this country. The way ICE handles immigrants, legal or otherwise – no one should risk a future like that for their child.

    I’ve spent 8 to 14 hours a day for eight months, along with thousands of dollars I don’t have, sold some of my belongings and gone through hell just trying to get a friend who was picked up by ICE a chance to prove his case that he would be tortured and killed if they deported him back to his country of origin – just to get him a little justice. I know what lies in wait for anyone who is not a citizen in this country.

    We can’t have our women risking putting their children through what my friend is going through. We need to close our borders going out of the country – no more American women of childbearing age allowed out for any reason!

    You think I’m kidding? Well yeah, it’s ridiculous, but these crazy conspiracy nuts may have something beyond loosing the Presidency in mind for Obama. I know of a man who was not a citizen, was here legally, who is locked up awaiting deportation because he had a little pot. You admit to using drugs and you aren’t a citizen – you’re deportable. Obama admitted he’d once smoked pot. If he weren’t a citizen he’d not only not be eligible to be the President – he’d be deported the way ICE is doing things these days.

    Lou Dobbs is detestable, but maybe he’s performing a public service – keeping us reminded of the dangers to our greatness as a nation if we aren’t careful – that there are people out there that would dismantle the Statue of Liberty and all she stands for if they had their way. We must be ever vigilant to preserve and protect our freedoms. Lou Dobbs on the air reminds us by example.

    That said, I wrote in to CNN and protested his drivel. It insults our country.

  • Mac

    What amazes me here is the number of people that make this issue all about Obama. The issue here is Lou Dobbs and is lack of integrity, no his complete lack of honesty. His desire to out and out lie and distort when the facts clearly show another story.

    This means he must have a motive to what he is doing. Either it is ratings, right wing conspiracy hyping, racism, fostering his anti-immigration agenda or some combination of all these. Whatever the motives are many of the postings on this site are nothing more than Obama attacks. Some of the posters don’t even defend what Dobbs has said, they just defend his right to tell lies.

    Try and remember that Lou Dobbs calls himself a “newsman”. He reported the leprosy story as news even after it was debunked and never refuted it. It is still an urban legend. Thanks to “newsmen” like Dobbs the false Obama birth story is now an urban legend as well.

    Hate, intolerance, poor losers, wishful thinking, and ignorance of the law (not knowing for instance what constitutes a native born citizen), have generated this lie. Hopefully this same thinking won’t generate an assassination.


  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    David, your claims are called “idle speculation”. The evidence shows that Obama was born in the US, and the newspaper announcements support that evidence. Just because you can daydream reasons why someone might want to lie about that doesn’t mean it actually happened.

  • David G

    Section 1, Article 2 of our Consitution states: No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

    Although only dealing with the concept of citizenship and not necessarily natural born citizenship, the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides an additional source of constitutional doctrine stating that birth “in the United States” and subjection to U.S. jurisdiction at the time of birth, entitles one to citizenship.

    The requirements for citizenship, and its very definition in American statute law, have changed since the Constitution was ratified in 1788. Congress first recognized the citizenship of children born to U.S. parents overseas on March 26, 1790, stating that “the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.” However, this last part does not directly apply since Barak Obama was actually born in the State of Hawaii, and his mother was a full citizen of the U.S. i.e., he was not born overseas.

    Since there was no definition of “natural born citizen” found in the constitution, the majority in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) adopted the common law of England that was a carry over from feudal times. The court ruled:

    It thus clearly appears that by the law of England for the last three centuries, beginning before the settlement of this country, and continuing to the present day, aliens, while residing in the dominions possessed by the crown of England, were within the allegiance, the obedience, the faith or loyalty, the protection, the power, and the jurisdiction of the English sovereign; and therefore every child born in England of alien parents was a natural-born subject, unless the child of an ambassador or other diplomatic agent of a foreign state, or of an alien enemy in hostile occupation of the place where the child was born. III. The same rule was in force in all the English colonies upon this continent down to the time of the Declaration of Independence, and in the United States afterwards, and continued to prevail under the constitution as originally established.

    We are a nation of laws, and the laws are clear, no matter what spin the ‘birthers’ might like to put on the facts. Mr. Obama is a natural born citizen within the commonly held legal view, and is in fact OUR President.

  • Marisa

    Yes, yes, yes! It’s about time someone spoke up against Lou Dobbs. I am all for Mr. Dobbs having “free speech,” bukt he tends to go off on tangents (like his going along with the “birther” B.S. recently promoted by wacko Republicans) and making an a** of himself. He hasn’t quite reached the low-life levels of Limbaugh or Savage yet, but he’s not far behind.

  • Pam

    Stu Zucker: President Obama is a citizen of the U. S. A. so Dobbs is lying, and creating a platform for the racist radical right-wing fringe.

    WHY don’t people get that.

    People are being murdered because of the color of their skin, or their personal views, and Dobbs, palin, limbaugh, hannity/coulter/faux hate news, are creating more problems in this country by getting on national TV and lying.

    Journalists must tell the truth AND cite their sources, and we should accept nothing less. Public commentors need to either state their comments to be personal opinions, or tell the entire truth.

    Dobbs is backing up the lying domestic terrorist right-wing fringe in our country. THAT is unacceptable.

  • aaarg

    Dobbs started losing his mind when he became a radio talk show host. Now he wants to be another limbaugh or mike savage. Take your pick.

  • Don Quixote

    I’ve always supported the SPLC but when going up against the likes of Dobbs, one of the most prominent leaders of the rapidly expanding AWM (Angry White Male) cartel, I always think of one of my favorite quotes:

    “The most dangerous idea is the only dangerous idea: The idea that ideas can be dangerous.

    We live in a world in which people are beheaded, imprisoned, demoted, and censured simply because they have opened their mouths, flapped their lips, and vibrated some air. Yes, those vibrations can make us feel sad or stupid or alienated. Tough sh-t. That’s the price of admission to the marketplace of ideas. Hateful, blasphemous, prejudiced, vulgar, rude, or ignorant remarks are the music of a free society, and the relentless patter of idiots is how we know we’re in one. When all the words in our public conversation are fair, good, and true, it’s time to make a run for the fence.”

    — Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Director of the Social Cognition and Emotion Lab,  answers The Edge’s Annual Question for 2006: What is your most dangerous idea?

    I feel the SPLC is exercising its own free speech in requesting Dobbs’ firing, but when it comes to censorship, it is better to err on the side of allowing hateful speech. These tactics can backfire. Many reasonable compassionate and moderate conservatives are being turned off by these commentators and are turning away from the GOP. Allowing Dobbs, to flap their lips actually helps SPLC’s cause.

  • Steve

    Frank F. O’Barski said,
    Has Mauka READ the law? A natural born citizen is ANYONE –regardless of parentage — born in the territory of the United States.

    Has O’Barski READ the law? There isn’t a law that says that! Open border fanatics use the 14th Amendment for that purpose, but it isn’t a law. The U.S. Supreme Court has never made a ruling that states it is and Congress has never passed a bill that says it is. So you Sir! Are wrong. All it takes to stop this insanity is for the Congress to pass a resolution stating the 14th Amendment DOES NOT give Birthright citizenship. Guess what Pal, it’s being considered now. Read the 14th Amendment. It was brought into being by REPUBLICANS to give the Former slaves and their children citizenship. Not every Tom, Dick, and Harry freeloader!

  • Brian

    Lou Dobbs has the right to free speech. That doesn’t mean that CNN is obligated to broadcast his speech for an hour a day, nor that the SPLC is prohibited from asking CNN to stop broadcasting his speech.

  • Exposed Heads

    If this was not an issue then why does Obama have a team of lawyers that intercept all attempts to get documentation about his birth, his attendance at certain universities (which would show if he attended on a foreign student visa), and many other documents.

    This creep – OBAMA – has allot to hide and his media machine and blind followers will stop at nothing, even branding people as “racist” and calling for firing certain people that demand proof.

    Someday all will be proven but then it will be too late and grave damage will have been done to the USA – as it has already.