Saturday, July 25, 2009

Can CNN Survive As Lou Dobbs Ups The Crazy?

After Lou Dobbs thoroughly embarrassed the “most trusted name in news,” which is how CNN still has the cojones to refer to itself, the network’s top brass has told Dobbs to cool it. It seems CNN president Jon Klein got the network's researchers to contact Hawaii state authorities and get answers to the question about Obama’s birth certificate (apparently in 2001 the state of Hawaii went paperless). In an e-mail Klein instructed Dobbs staffers to
be sure to cite this during your segment tonite. And then it seems this story is dead - because anyone who still is not convinced doesn't really have a legitimate beef.


At which point Dobbs promptly ignored Klein’s request to drop it, ignored the evidence the researchers provided, and went on to question why Obama hasn't presented every crackpot in America with a copy of his birth certificate.

Meanwhile, today the Southern Poverty Law Center called on CNN to take Dobbs off the air. The letter from the SPLC president to Jon Klein reads, in part:

As he has in several other instances, Mr. Dobbs, in taking up the birthers' claims, is adopting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that originated on the radical racist right. As has reported, this particular conspiracy theory was first developed by an open anti-Semite and circulated by right-wing extremists who cannot accept the fact that a black man has been elected president of the United States. Among its adherents was neo-Nazi James von Brunn, the alleged murderer of a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., this June. Von Brunn had helped spread the birthers' claims on the Internet and attacked the "dishonest & conspiratorial Media" for not taking them up.

This is not the first time Mr. Dobbs has pushed racist conspiracy theories or defamatory falsehoods about immigrants. We wrote you in 2007 to bring to your attention his utterly false claim that 7,000 new cases of leprosy had appeared in the United States in a recent three-year period, due at least in part to immigrants. (The real number, according to official statistics, was about 400. Mr. Dobbs took his spurious information from the late right-wing extremist, Madeleine Cosman.) In addition, Mr. Dobbs has reported as fact the so-called Aztlan conspiracy, which claims that undocumented Mexican immigrants are part of a plot to "reconquer" the American Southwest. He has suggested there is something to a related conspiracy theory that claims the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada are secretly planning to merge into the "North American Union." He has falsely claimed that "illegal aliens" fill one third of American prison and jail cells. And Mr. Dobbs has routinely disparaged, on CNN's air, those who have had the integrity to point out the falsity of these and similar claims.

Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda. It's time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves.

The SPLC has a point. Lou Dobbs and his ilk have mainstreamed extremist thought. It’s one thing to blather like an idiot on your own wingnutty radio show, but his position on CNN--“the most trusted name in news”--lends a gravitas and legitimacy to his extreme right-wing views. You know, if the most trusted name in news is going to repeat this BS, maybe there's something to it, eh?

It's not a matter of right vs left, it's a matter of fact vs fiction, with a poltiical motive behind it. That just sucks five ways to Thursday.

I’m sure this is why CNN has gone to so much effort to debunk these ludicrous lies, but when one of your own hosts is ignoring the obvious, you gotta wonder if CNN’s own credibility might not get sullied in all of this. Frankly, I haven’t trusted CNN in a long time, anyway. I wonder how much longer other folks will, too?

CNN first got itself into hot water when they hired Glenn Beck. It seems they've got another wackadoodle they need to hand over to Fox News before they lose all credibility. And hey, Jon Klein: ask Lou to take Nancy Grace with him.

(BTW, just wondering: does Vanderbilt’s Carol Swain still want to draft Lou Dobbs for president?)