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 to O’Reilly: You Lose Dobbs Bet

By Richard Cohen on November 16, 2009 - 1:22 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

To: Bill O’Reilly
The O’Reilly Factor
Fox News Network

Dear Bill,

You lost the bet. Time to pay up!

When I appeared on your show in July, you were so certain that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s call for CNN to fire Lou Dobbs was a waste of time that you bet $10,000 (with the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity) that it wouldn’t happen.

“CNN’s never going to fire him – you know that,” you said.

I told you that I disagreed, because I wasn’t as cynical as you.  I believed that if enough people spoke out – and they did – that CNN would do the right thing.

I expect you will argue that Lou didn’t get fired – that he got fed up and quit the network he had been with for three decades.

But as a litigator, I’d like to present Exhibit A:  Dobbs’ $8 million severance package, which was reported today by the New York Post.  I think you’ll agree that Mr. Murdoch’s Post would never report such a thing were it not, indeed, a fact.

And would CNN fork over $8 million – enough money to pay for 13 miles of electric border fence – to an employee who simply wanted to walk away from his multimillion-dollar contract because he couldn’t constrain his opinions on a news show?

I doubt it!

Maybe your fall-back position is that it wasn’t a real bet.  I don’t know.  But I think that if you’ll stop spinning for a moment, you’ll agree that in the court of public opinion, you lose.  I know it hurts deeply to be wrong.  (Although Lou won’t admit it, it happens to the best of us.) You can be assured that your loss will be a big win for a family in need of housing.

CNN did the right thing. Now it’s your turn!

Sincerely yours,

J. Richard Cohen
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

  • dave varez

    An article in Crain’s NY Business alluded to the point that in a bid to revitalize itself in the International arena rather than its failing domestic one , thus in a bid to increase profitability via viewership , CNN made a business choice to
    remove the controversy it felt would be counterproductive to that end in its new target markets.

    So Mr. Cohen’s claim of “victory” may be somewhat farcical in that scenario.

    And it also would put into question if O’Reilly really was responsible to make good on his bet.

    That he did so regardless was nice of him , and some of the comments here , as if reneging is not equally a Right AND a Left phenomenon at times ,
    is quite silly to read.

  • Michael

    What’s wrong with Lou, a 30-year veteran of CNN, getting a severance package? And how does that mean he was fired? I know plenty of business people who retired with a severance package.

  • http://n/a Maureen Goldman

    For some reason one of my posts didn’t post but as to the redacted numbers – if for any reason there is a need to publish copies any of my forms of personal I.D., I most certainly hope they WOULD redact some of the numbers. I have 2 copies of my birth certificate. As Mike said there is a short form, printed on demand.

  • texasgomer

    I like what Bill Maher said, “Show me Sarah Palin’s high school diploma and I will show you Obama’s birth certificate.” As far as Bill-O goes, being wrong is a way of life for him.

  • Snorlax

    mike doesn’t know anything about birth certificates.

    The serial number on Obama’s short form birth certificate IS redacted to comply with privacy laws. The birth date and location are NOT redacted.

    Obama’s short form WAS printed after his birth. That’s what the short form is for. The state prints these up on demand. Mine is a certified copy of a short form filled out the year after I was born.

    Is it a legal birth certificate? YES.

    mike, keep ‘asking’ those stupid birther ‘questions’, because you whackos are discrediting the entire Reich Wing.

    And America would be better off without the Reich Wing.

    SPLC should investigate these birthers.

  • dona

    BIRTHERS= Americas Taliban!

  • The Left Wing Patriot

    I’m no O’Reilly supporter, but he did recognize and agree to pay the bet to Habitat for Humanity on the air.

  • juanita

    Lou Dobbs promoting racist untruths is dangerous and should never be allowed in a public forum because it puts many of us in this country in harms way of those people who feel that his “facts” coincide with their stereotypes.

  • BalRog

    Pretty obvious that Billo send his goon squad over here to your blog, Richard. Not watch out for for the ambush.

    Congratulations on doing your part to get hate speech off the air. Now if only we could do something about Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh and Billo himself.

  • mike lyman

    To continue on my previous comment on President Obama’s “Certificate of live birth”. Why does it have redacted numbers?? Could it be the state of Hawaii has a numbering system that would show that this certificate is from a time long after Obama was born, and thus is a fraud? Just asking?

  • Carter

    Previously I had said at the start of this discussion that; “Frankly, if he DID pay, I would be quite impressed with O’Reilly’s sense of fairness.”
    Well, I am impressed. O’Reilly is a man of his word.
    I have NOT been one to judge a person by their political Party affiliation, nor have I used denigrating expression for either Republican or Democrats. The reason being is that I believe that both Parties have quite a few people who I don’t care for in their ranks.
    O’Reilly is not the most Politically Correct individual I have listened to but he does stand behind his word.

  • Snorlax

    When someone says they’re not a birther, but then they proceed to spew birther garbage, they ARE a birther.

    Lou Dobbs is a birther.

    Check out to debunk this outrageous lie.

    Not only has the head of the State of Hawaii Department of Health certified Obama’s birth certificate as legitimate, but Snopes also has a quote from one of the nurses who actually was there at the hospital when Obama was born.

    Obama is a US citizen. The fact that we have people saying otherwise in here and on TV indicates that we have a serious epidemic of mass psychosis in this country.

    The Reich Wingnuts have had a psychotic break with reality.

  • Snorlax

    mike lyman said, “I am not a birther, but…”

    You ARE a birther. You’re spewing birther garbage here.

    The Obama birth certificate is legitimate and legal tender.

    I have a short form birth certificate myself, I use it as ID and had no trouble getting a US passport with it.

    What you Birthers are saying is that back in 1961, the State of Hawaii and both major Honolulu daily newspapers engaged in a conspiracy to falsely claim baby Obama was born in the US when he was actually born in Kenya.

    You Birthers are all off your meds. Call your doctor NOW.

  • Kathleen

    “He who laughs last laughs best.” CNN caves in to SPLC and LaRaza and is in dead last place in cable news; FoxNews refuses to be intimidated by the shakedowns and they are in first place with MSNBC a distant second.

    Lou Dobbs has far too much integrity to be associated with CNN. Those who appreciate people who have the courage to speak the truth eagerly await FoxNews announcing: “Lou Dobbs defeats Robert Menendez for NJ Senate…..”

  • mike lyman

    Richard Cohen – O’Reilly is right, the left uses fascist tactics to shut people up.
    I am not a birther, but Dobbs said yesterday on O’Reilly,
    “Why can’t we just ask a question” about his birth.
    President Obama released one document to the public, a “Certificate of live birth”, why does it have redacted numbers on it? What does that mean?
    Can I just ask that question about a document that Obama himself released?

  • linda

    Gee, you talk about about bunch of hate mongers! Thanks for confirming exactly what I thought about Cohen on O’Rielly. If I were Cohen, Id be embaressed to have this crowd of followers and hate mongers. Obviously, these bloggers are hypocrites as they are doing the very same thing that they claim Dobbs was doing – spreading hate.

  • G.P.

    You never made the Bet.Surprise,Surprise!
    Hell will freeze over before you would risk ten grand on anything, especially on your bogus claims.O’Reilly pays the bet ,even though he knows you had nothing to do with Dobbs leaving.Makes you look even smaller.I hope Dobbs gets a primetime show on Fox and has you as his first guest.

  • Benjamin

    I agree with a previous comment: You never accepted the bet Mr. Cohen, so no binding agreement exists. Needless to say, O’Reilly has already agreed to make the donation because at the end of the day… he is a much bigger man than you will ever be. As a litigator (to use your words).. you should know that you make a feeble argument in suggesting that O’Reilly has lost the bet. I think it’s outrageously presumptuous of you to claim you’ve won the bet when first: it was never officially accepted by you, and two: there is no SOLID evidence that Dobbs was specifically fired from CNN. You’re obviously aware of the holes in your argument or you would not have spent three paragraphs of your article outlining them preemptively.

  • Rod

    O’Reily paid up. Guess all the whiners on here were wrong. And to try and get someone off Tv that you disagree with is dumb. But I guess if you can’t beat them get them off the air. What a bunch of losers. Not American. Have a good and loud debate. Call him on the carpet. I only scanned thru his show a few times cause CNN is a joke anyway. But then again I am talking to the very people they cater to so what was I thinking?


    Notice how Cohen frequently uses the term “immigrants” but fails to identify those who are in this country “ILLEGALLY.”
    Mr. Cohen, how about fair use of language when addressing this issue?

  • DavidOfromABQ

    Billo’s kind of tapped out from all the payouts to Andrea Mackris these days……………

  • Maureen

    Don’t mean to ‘spam’ you but you were quite correct to point out the difference between a commentator & a newscaster. I have relatives who believe Dobbs because he’s a “CNN anchorperson”. At the very least Dobbs intentionally blurred the line.

  • Snorlax

    PervOreilly is a welsher. He wouldn’t pay up even if Dobbs got fired live on the set.

    Why is PervOReilly even working at FOX News?

    Any other employer would have fired him for sexual harassment ten years ago.

    FOX News obviously does not enforce any sexual harassment rules. Female employees be warned!!

  • Howard Boyd

    I love you, Richard, but I didn’t actually hear you accept the bet. Would be great if O’Reilly makes the donation anyway.

  • John J Onda

    Is this covered by the ” Statute of Frauds ” ?

  • David Rooker, Esq.

    Don’t know why Bill thinks it’s OK for Lou to shout hate from the rooftops, but would deny another’s right to call the jackass out on it.

  • Lu Franklin

    O’Reilly ever own up to his own mistakes?

    When “you know where” freezes over!

  • Maureen

    Dear Mr. Cohen,
    I know you didn’t really expect Mr. O’Reilly to pay up. He’ll no doubt claim, as you speculate that Dobbs quit. Either way we all win. I’m very proud to have been among the many who wrote to the sponsors of Dobbs loathsome show and call on them to withdraw their support.
    I was extremely fortunate to have been invited to the Chicago screening of La Causa. I met not only you but Doloros Huerta. As I told her that night – she, Mr. Chavez and others in the movement taught me at a young age that millions of “little people” are an immovable force when they bind together for a cause.
    Thank you for speaking for so many, and as I said – either way , you won!

  • Al Warner

    Pay up, loser!

  • Carter

    Dear Mr. Cohen:

    The REAL bet is would Mr.O’Reilly really pay up! Quite a few people thought Dobbs was going to move on. When a man is so small he can’t admit when he got his figures wrong; he’s lost a lot more than a statement of fact.
    The severance package issue is a good one and I also agree; no one really looses in a bet like this one.
    I wonder is Mr. O’Reilly will dodge this one till it withers on the vine.
    I think he won’t pay. He may dodge by saying that such a thing would be unwholesome; betting on a man’s livelihood. – As if Dobb’s ability to feed his family was threatened….
    Frankly, if he DID pay, I would be quite impressed with O’Reilly’s sense of fairness.

  • Tim

    Well, a bet’s a bet … Can’t argue with that.

  • beholder

    I think it’s time to pony up, Bill. Fair is fair.