Reluctantly, Lou Dobbs Offers a Rare Apology for Nativist Rhetoric

Question: What’s the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce?

A)    An organization that seeks “to foster Hispanic economic development and to create a sustainable prosperity for the benefit of American society.”
B)    An organization that “is interested in … Mexico’s export of drugs and illegal aliens to the United States.”

If you chose a), chances are you’re a perfectly sensible person with a reasonable familiarity with the issues and organizations of the day. After all, the Hispanic Chamber is well known as a relatively conservative, pro-business organization that represents the interests of more than 2.5 million Hispanic-owned businesses.

If you chose b), you’re almost certainly Lou Dobbs, the insult-spewing Latino-basher who hosts CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” five times a week.

Dobbs, of course, is known for regularly pushing defamatory falsehoods about undocumented immigrants — they fill one third of American prison and jail cells, they’re part of a secret Mexican plan to “reconquer” the American Southwest, they are largely responsible for a spate of 7,000 recent leprosy cases… Even when Dobbs isn’t hosting his own show, his fill-in hosts spew such racist propaganda as the lie about subprime housing loans going to 5 million “illegal aliens.”

But Dobbs may have outdone himself on March 10, when he launched into a furious tirade against President Barack Obama, who earlier that day gave a major speech on education reform from the Hispanic Chamber’s Washington, D.C., offices.

“I don’t know what’s happened to this White House, but the wheels appear to have come completely off here over the last several days,” Dobbs fulminated. “Making a decision to talk about a national initiative on education from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which is effectively an organization that is interested in the export of American capital and production to Mexico and Mexico’s export of drugs and illegal aliens to the United States. This is crazy stuff.”

And how. So much so, in fact, that this Tuesday the man who has in the past utterly refused to retract false allegations, actually offered up a “correction.”

It wasn’t known if that was prompted by his CNN overlords, the angry demands for a retraction from the Hispanic Chamber, or his own guilty conscience — but we’re betting it wasn’t the latter. Even after "60 Minutes," The New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review and many other serious media outlets pointed out Dobbs’ pushing of spurious allegations infamously linking immigrants to a resurgence of leprosy — effectively mocking his claim to be a “journalist” — the CNN host refused to retract or correct his falsehoods.

The idea that the Hispanic Chamber wanted to aid the smuggling of drugs and undocumented workers into the United States left dropped jaws around the nation. The Washington Independent referred to the talk show host as “CNN’s immigrant attack dog Lou Dobbs.” The Houston Chronicle noted soberly that many Americans view Lou Dobbs as “just an anti-immigrant blowhard.” Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant America’s Voice group, said he knew the chamber well as an organization of “hardworking business owners” who are “patriotic Americans.” “Apparently,” Sharry added, “when Lou saw the word ‘Hispanic’ in the name of the organization hosting the event, he went loco.”

This Tuesday, with his teeth metaphorically gritted, Dobbs spat out an apology of sorts — although only after a furious attack on Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who had suggested that gun control in America could help Mexico disarm its own drug cartels. “What in the world,” Dobbs fumed, was Durbin doing “speaking so irresponsibly? … I find it astonishing.”

Then he got to the “apology”:

“I want to make a correction to something I said last week. I made a mistake,” he said. “I believe any open-borders policy does facilitate not only illegal immigration but also the trafficking of massive amounts of illicit drugs. I, of course, do not believe that the chamber supports or condones either drug or human trafficking. My apologies to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. And I hope that they will forgive me for misspeaking.”

And with that it was back to the Lou Dobbs show we’ve all come to appreciate. Next up on the show: Dobbs’ take on a blog that has “many left-leaning reporters as members” and “operates in secrecy.”

Don’t worry, folks. Lou’s on the case.