It's time to drop Lou Dobbs: A call to action

Blog ››› ››› JOHN V. SANTORE

For years, Lou Dobbs has been one of the most dangerous hosts on cable news. He benefits enormously from the legitimacy of the CNN brand, which provides him with an unparalleled platform from which to mainstream the hate speech and racially charged conspiracy theories normally relegated to Fox News and other conservative news outlets. Dobbs calls himself an "advocacy journalist," but he doesn't even live up to that ambiguous standard. Good journalism enhances the discussion of serious topics, but Dobbs helps to undermine and debase that discussion, routinely infusing it with misinformation and fear. And when it comes to issues like immigration, he has more in common with birther Orly Taitz than with Anderson Cooper.

If CNN won't drop Dobbs, it's time that his advertisers did. It's time to do more than simply highlight the damage Dobbs does and the threat he poses. We must demand accountability from the advertisers who, by their purchase of airtime on his shows, actively support his hate speech.

Today, 11 organizations, including America's Voice, National Council of La Raza, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and many others, joined together to launch the Drop Dobbs campaign and DropDobbs.com. The effort aims to let companies know that their continued financial support of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight makes them complicit in the hate speech and wild conspiracy theories that he promotes.

The hugely successful Glenn Beck advertiser boycott currently under way shows how effective this kind of coordinated pressure can be. In just a matter of weeks, 62 companies have dropped Beck, costing the program 50 percent of its ad dollars. Companies simply don't want to be associated with Beck's on-air hate speech. They should feel the same way about Dobbs.

Watch the video and join the effort:

The stakes

Dobbs has a long history of spreading hate and paranoia. He has routinely discussed the North American Union conspiracy theory, incorrectly claimed that undocumented immigrants drain social services and don't pay taxes, and repeatedly amplified the falsehood that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately violent. He has been an unrepentant purveyor of hateful attacks, fraudulently claiming, for example, that immigrants are spreading leprosy and seek to reconquer the southwestern United States. And this past summer, he encouraged racially charged paranoia by legitimizing the (thoroughly debunked) birther conspiracy theory concerning the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate.

Just today, and for the second year in a row, Dobbs was a leading voice at an annual conference of radio personalities hosted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR was founded by a white supremacist, John Tanton, and has been labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FAIR certainly understands the value of Dobbs' presence at the event. In fact, it is promoting his participation as evidence of the gathering's supposed credibility.

Because of his shockingly long record of extremism and factually inaccurate reporting -- reporting that often directly contradicts the work of other journalists on CNN itself -- the network's reputation has already been dealt a severe blow. The AP even declared Dobbs to be a "publicity nightmare" for CNN. And yet, rather than dropping him, CNN continually makes excuses for its prized anchor. The network is even willing to ignore a recent decision by CNN president Jon Klein that talk-radio hosts will no longer be allowed on the network. In spite of this, Dobbs is permitted to host a vitriolic radio show that he promotes on his CNN program.

Together, we can close this glaring Lou Dobbs loophole. Visit DropDobbs.com and help us bring accountability to "the most trusted name" in hate speech.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Immigration
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Lou Dobbs
Show/Publication
Lou Dobbs Tonight
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