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Immigrant leaders in Chicago on Wednesday urged CNN to pull the plug on host Lou Dobbs, arguing that his prime-time television show spreads myths and misinformation about Latinos, especially Mexicans.
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Democracia U.S.A. is promoting a nationwide grassroots movement to pressure CNN into restraining Lou Dobbs from continuing to make “disparaging and inaccurate” comments about Latino immigrants.
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It’s no surprise when CNN’s Lou Dobbs bashes immigrants on his TV and radio programs. But recently the factually challenged talk show host has been veering even further toward the far-right fringe.
Last week, as Media Matters documented, Dobbs approvingly introduced conspiracy hound Jerome Corsi as a guest on his radio program. “We’re going to be talking about, obviously, illegal immigration,” Dobbs said on the Sept. 15 show. “We’re going to be talking about border security. And … Jerome Corsi is a pretty good guy to talk to about all of that.”
The “pretty good guy” is a prominent figure in the so-called birther movement, which contends that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is ineligible to hold the nation’s highest office. In addition to proclaiming on talk shows that Obama’s birth certificate is phony, Corsi announced last fall that he was traveling to Hawaii to investigate the matter and predicted that “there’s gonna be something damaging on the birth certificate.” (Dobbs himself repeatedly questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate on air in July, falsely claiming that the document hadn’t been released.) Corsi also traveled to Kenya last October to investigate Obama. The trip didn’t work out too well for him. He was promptly detained by immigration authorities as he headed for a press conference after arriving in that country, then put on a plane back home.
Not only is Corsi pushing a discredited conspiracy theory, but he has made derogatory comments about Muslims and Catholics. He posted a series of bigoted comments on FreeRepublic.com in which he called Islam “a worthless, dangerous Satanic religion” and declared that “boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn’t reported by the liberal press.” (He later apologized for the posts.) Last July, he appeared on “The Political Cesspool,” an overtly racist, anti-Semitic radio show hosted by avowed white nationalist James Edwards. Other guests who have been sympathetically interviewed on Edwards’ show make up a virtual Who’s Who of the radical right, including former Klan boss David Duke, Holocaust denier Mark Weber and neo-Nazi activist April Gaede. ( continue to full post… )
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In July, as you might recall, the SPLC called on the president of CNN to remove Lou Dobbs from the air after he repeatedly used his platform to nurture the totally discredited “birther” movement. The birthers, of course, are the folks who insist that President Obama was really born in Kenya – not Hawaii – and therefore is not eligible to be president. Their attacks are part of a wider, racially tinged campaign to de-legitimize Obama’s presidency by portraying him as some kind of foreign-born, Marxist, fascist, Muslim friend of terrorists.
As Dobbs continued to obsess over Obama’s birth certificate, CNN president Jonathan Klein decreed that the bogus controversy was indeed settled – in Obama’s favor – and that Dobbs would no longer talk about it on CNN. But Klein took no action to stop Dobbs’ further descent into loony land. Klein, in fact, stood firmly behind Dobbs’ authority to set his own agenda and exercise his own editorial judgment.
Well, now it’s time to revoke Dobbs’ journalistic license altogether. He can no longer lay any claim whatsoever to journalistic objectivity or integrity. This week, he’s headlining an anti-immigrant talk radio fest sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been designated a hate group by the SPLC. ( continue to full post… )
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For those two or three people remaining in America who are still uncertain if Lou Dobbs is an immigration extremist, the CNN and radio show host has removed any doubts: He is. Dobbs is a headliner next week when the Federation for American Immigration Reform — FAIR — takes its annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” show to Washington, D.C.
Some 47 radio station talk show blabbers are scheduled to broadcast Sept. 15-16 from Capitol Hill. They will interview members of Congress, immigration reform proponents and — best of all — “high profile media personalities and activists,” according to FAIR. FAIR members also will try to buttonhole elected representatives for a chat about immigration issues, and there will be a reception to recognize those who have made “significant contributions towards true immigration reform.”
Dobbs’ scheduled broadcast at the event prompted Media Matters for America President Eric Burns to write an open letter to CNN President Jonathan Klein on Aug. 28. Burns noted that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FAIR a hate group.
Among other things, FAIR has employed officials in key positions who are also members of white supremacist groups, and promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico’s secretly coveting the American Southwest, and another theory claiming secret plans to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada. FAIR was founded in 1979 by John Tanton, whose long history of bigotry toward Latinos and Catholics has been well documented by the SPLC.
Dobbs already has damaged CNN’s credibility by the “attention and legitimacy he gave to the ‘birther’ movement” recently, Burns wrote. [SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote to Klein in July calling on him to remove Dobbs from the air because of his lending credence to birthers’ unsubstantiated claims that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States and therefore can’t legally be president]. “CNN’s association with FAIR through Mr. Dobbs is nothing less than a stain on an organization that calls itself ‘The Most Trusted Name in News,’” Burns wrote.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Burns and Media Matters hadn’t received a response from Klein. It seems unlikely the CNN honcho will prohibit Dobbs’ participation in the FAIR event. One need only look at the name of last year’s headliner to see why: Lou Dobbs.
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Yesterday, I went on the “O’Reilly Factor” to discuss our call for CNN to take Lou Dobbs off the air for Dobbs’ latest conspiracy-mongering. Bill O’Reilly said we shouldn’t take Dobbs too seriously. After all, Bill said, it’s all just for ratings. But in our view, the matter is an extremely serious one, because the ratings game Dobbs is playing is very dangerous.
For years, Dobbs has been trading in baseless, conspiratorial claims that originate on the radical right. Most recently, he’s given credence to the utterly discredited claim that President Obama was not born in this country and so is not eligible to be president. It’s a claim that’s been debunked many times over. CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called it “a joke.” But it’s a claim that continues to circulate in radical right circles. James von Brunn, the neo-Nazi accused of killing the Holocaust Memorial Museum guard, for example, promoted the claim on the Internet and berated the media for not taking it seriously.
The reason Dobbs’ ratings game is so dangerous is that there is a segment in our society that is not ready to accept the fact that we have a black man in the White House. At the extreme, people are striking out, killing others as a result. In Okaloosa, Fla., two sheriff’s deputies were murdered by a man who was upset over Obama’s election. In Pittsburgh, three police officers were murdered by a man who was convinced that Obama was going to ban guns. The Secret Service has reported a record number of threats against the new president. By knowingly trading in unsubstantiated, conspiratorial claims that undermine the president’s legitimacy, Dobbs is stirring a boiling pot. Just like he’s been stirring the pot of anti-Latino rage for years.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Dobbs bears legal responsibility for the right-wing violence that has greeted the Obama presidency. But I am saying that Dobbs bears a degree of moral responsibility for pouring fuel, in the form of baseless accusations, on a raging fire. Because Dobbs can’t help himself – and because he has a history of promoting false claims that originate on the radical right – we have called on CNN to remove him from the air. Merely telling those who are offended to turn the channel is not going to solve the problem. ( continue to full post… )
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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.”
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CNN’s Lou Dobbs rarely lets the facts get in the way of defaming immigrants, so perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us that he has also jumped on the “birther” bandwagon by suggesting that President Barack Obama has yet to prove he’s a U.S. citizen.
“The first thing is to determine whether or not his birth certificate is valid,” Dobbs said on the July 15 edition of his radio show. “And what I don’t understand is why that has not been released and given over to the public record.”
That wasn’t a throwaway comment, either. As Media Matters for America documented, Dobbs repeatedly questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate last week on both his radio show and television program. In doing so, he aligned himself with a far-right fringe movement that claims Obama hasn’t shown he is eligible to serve as president. The so-called birthers have filed numerous (thus far unsuccessful) lawsuits questioning Obama’s citizenship.
Problem is, Dobbs’ own colleagues at CNN have refused to give credence to the suggestion that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii. ( continue to full post… )
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Our old friend Lou Dobbs is at it again.
Last Thursday, after stories about our latest hate group count ran around the nation, Dobbs offered CNN’s viewers his own peculiar take. He started by sneering at the scores of “media organizations” that he said were “just lapping it up,” and then told his viewers that the Southern Poverty Law Center report — documenting an increase in hate groups in 2008 — “could be an outright distortion.”
That’s about the place where Dobbs, assisted by reporter Kitty Pilgrim, started his own series of distortions. (A little background for the uninitiated: Dobbs has been angry at SPLC, calling us “fascists” and all kinds of other cruel and unusual names, ever since we began to criticize his falsehoods about immigrants several years back. After a long exegesis of our battle with the host of CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” New York Times financial columnist David Leonhardt concluded in print that Dobbs “has a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.” Dobbs had insisted on defending a false claim about immigrants and leprosy and was widely mocked as a result. Leonhardt continued: “The problem with Mr. Dobbs is that he mixes opinion and untruths. He is the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.”)
First, Pilgrim promoted me to “the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” a career leap also “reported” by Dobbs, who made me “the head” of SPLC — much, I assume, to the chagrin of my apparently former boss, Richard Cohen.
Then Pilgrim launched into a bizarre “report” in which she said the FBI has no definition of a “hate group” and, moreover, does not “monitor individuals or groups of individuals based on what they think or say.” Although both Pilgrim and Dobbs wore shocked expressions at that revelation — they apparently felt that if the FBI wasn’t “monitoring” the groups, then neither should the SPLC — anyone with a minimum of knowledge about federal law enforcement knows that agencies are prohibited from monitoring groups based on their political ideas. Only when evidence of a crime or planned crime is found can the agencies begin investigations of any kind. If the FBI indeed investigated groups without evidence of criminality, we would be the first to object. The COINTELPRO scandal of the 1970s showed what can happen when agencies like the FBI are allowed to “monitor” groups simply because of their ideas.
Pilgrim went on to accuse the SPLC of having an “utterly fuzzy” definition of a hate group because it relied on the group’s ideology, as Dobbs vigorously nodded his agreement. But neither suggested any groups that had been wrongly listed because of that definition or suggested an alternative definition. Was it the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan that should have been excluded? The National Socialist Movement? The Aryan Nations? Sons of Adolf Hitler, perhaps? We don’t know, because neither Pilgrim nor Dobbs would say.
Next, Dobbs and Pilgrim hauled out the FBI’s national hate crime statistics — presumably to show that the number of hate groups could not be going up if hate crimes were going down (although it’s well known that more than 95% of hate crimes are carried out by people who do not belong to hate groups). Those statistics run from 1992 to 2007, the latest available. But for some peculiar reason, Dobbs and Pilgrim chose to highlight the total number of incidents from just two years — 1995 and 2007. They then pointed out that hate crimes had actually decreased by about 4% in that period (they also bolstered their case a bit by falsely claiming that the 1995 number was 7,974 when it was actually 7,947). Why did they choose 1995 for their early number? Well, if they chose 1994, the number of hate crimes would have been 5,987 — and that wouldn’t have worked too well for their propaganda, seeing as how that would mean a 28.5% increase by 2007. In fact, every year before 1995 — 1994, 1993 and 1992 — would have produced increases when compared to 2007 instead of decreases. Go figure! ( continue to full post… )
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Last night, CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” aired a segment criticizing the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) for holding a news conference earlier in the day calling attention to the link between anti-immigrant rhetoric and hate crimes against Latinos. The groups were reacting to the recent murder of Marcello Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, who was fatally attacked in early November by seven high school students in Suffolk County, New York.
“Suffolk County is a particularly good example of elected officials stoking the fires of anti-immigrant sentiment,” NCLR head Janet Murguia said during the press conference. She spotlighted the anti-immigrant rhetoric of Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, saying he had been “notably hard line against immigrants in his county.” Earlier, Levy stated that the Lucero murder would have been a “one-day story” if the media hadn’t chosen to hype it. Levy later apologized for the remark.
Dobbs denounced NCLR’s use of the Lucero murder to call attention to hate crimes. Dismissing concerns about anti-immigrant rhetoric leading to hate violence, Dobbs called the groups “advocates of open borders” and mocked them for being “long on rhetoric and absolutely, absolutely devoid of facts or respect for them.”
Dobbs, who has a long track record of defaming immigrants by linking them to crime, disease and other horrors, would probably like to pretend that immigrant bashing doesn’t lead to hate crimes. But the facts of the Lucero case show otherwise. The teens implicated in Lucero’s murder specifically declared that they were going to “go jump a Mexican” and went out hunting in the ethnically diverse village of Patchogue. Latinos in Suffolk County have long reported being threatened and physically harassed and there have been other highly publicized attacks there, including the near-beating death of two Mexican day laborers in 2001 and the burning of a Mexican family’s house in 2003.