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Fox’s Cavuto Wins SPLC’s Dobbsy Award for Pinning Blame on Minorities for Mortgage Crisis

The first wave of nominations are in, and one man stands head and shoulders above the rest to claim our inaugural Dobbsy Award – Neil Cavuto of Fox News.

The host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" used his program to put the blame for the subprime mortgage meltdown squarely where he believes it belongs – on the shoulders of poor minorities who have dared try to own a home. In doing so, Cavuto has exemplified what it means to be a Dobbsy winner – a "mainstream" figure who makes utterly false or misleading statements that denigrate or defame an entire group of people.

Cavuto played Pin-the-Blame-on-the-Minority during a Sept. 18 interview with U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).

"[W]hen you and many of your colleagues were pushing for more minority lending and more expanded lending to folks who heretofore couldn't get mortgages, when you were pushing homeownership... . Are you totally without culpability here?" he asked. "Are you totally blameless? Are you totally irresponsible of anything that happened?"

And just in case the audience didn't catch his drift, he later spelled it out.

"I'm just saying, I don't remember a clarion call that said, 'Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster,'" he said.

That's right. In Cavuto's world, the real problem isn't Wall Street greed or lax federal regulation of reckless banking behemoths. No, it's all a matter of those irresponsible minorities who were willing to destroy the country's economy for a two-bedroom home in the 'burbs.

Recent reports by The Washington Post and The New York Times suggest otherwise.

The Post offered up a story on Oct. 3 that included a look at the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977, which was created to extend loans to minorities. Citing defenders of the act, the article noted that only a "tiny fraction" of subprime loans made since 2000 were created to satisfy the requirements of the act. Blaming the CRA for the economic fallout is "on the level of Swift Boat advertisements, except they are even less factual," John Taylor, president and chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, told the Post. "They are trying to blame the victim, which is an old strategy that moneyed corporate interests always employ."

Also on Oct. 3, The New York Times published an article that chronicled how the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2004 relaxed a rule for investment banks that allowed their brokerage units to take on massive amounts of debt relative to their assets. That opened the door for more investment in the toxic mortgage-backed securities that have torpedoed the economy.

No matter how dubious Cavuto's claim is, it has achieved widespread acceptance among conservative pundits and politicians. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) also blamed the mess on loans to minorities.

Congratulations, Neil. You're our first Dobbsy winner!

The competition was keen. But you're head and shoulders above the rest. Of course, it's easy to stand out when you are standing on the backs of an entire group of people.

Somewhere, Lou Dobbs must be smiling.

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