Who's in charge at CNN? Klein capitulates, allows Dobbs' birther coverage to continue

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

Apparently contradicting a statement he reportedly made the day before pronouncing the birther story seemingly "dead," CNN president Jonathan Klein has reportedly said that CNN would allow Lou Dobbs to continue airing conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth certificate.

In a July 24 interview with Washington Post Co. blogger Greg Sargent, CNN president Jonathan Klein reportedly said that CNN would allow Lou Dobbs to continue airing conspiracy theories about President Obama's birth certificate and stated: "I think no good journalist would ever say that a particular story will never be covered again. Every day brings new facts, new pegs."

Klein's reported statement appears to directly contradict an email he sent to Dobbs' show just one day earlier, in which he reportedly pronounced the birther story seemingly "dead" and declared that "anyone who still is not convinced doesn't really have a legitimate beef." As Media Matters for America documented, Dobbs appeared to disregard Klein's admonishment that the story was "dead," asking CNN contributor Roland Martin on July 23: "When this could be dispelled so quickly, and -- and simply by producing [the birth certificate], why not do it?"

Despite his reported statement that the story is "dead" and that the birth certificate conspiracy theorists don't "really have a legitimate beef," Klein reportedly told The New York Times on July 24 that, in the Times' words, "the e-mail message should not be interpreted as an order to stop debating the subject." According to the Times, Klein "defended Mr. Dobbs' broadcast, saying that 'what we do here all the time is dig into the truth about all kinds of controversial issues.' "

From Klein's July 23 email, obtained by TVNewser [emphasis added]:


Original Message

From: Klein, Jon (CNN)
Sent: Thu Jul 23 19:00:44 2009
Subject: Important re birth certificate

I asked the political researchers to dig into the question "why couldn't Obama produce the ORIGINAL birth certificate?"

This is what they forwarded. It seems to definitively answer the question. Since the show's mission is for Lou to be the explainer and enlightener, he should 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.

Thx

*****************

*In 2001 - the state of Hawaii Health Department went paperless.*Paper documents were discarded*The official record of Obama's birth is now an official ELECTRONIC record Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Health Department told the Honolulu Star Bulletin, "At that time, all information for births from 1908 (on) was put into electronic files for consistent reporting," she said.

From Sargent's July 24 post:

Asked if CNN is concerned that Dobbs' repeated granting of airtime to theories the network has conclusively debunked amounts to overkill and could harm CNN's credibility, Klein brushed off the possibility. "We respect our viewers enough to present them the facts and let them make up their own minds," he said, adding that what Dobbs does is "his editorial decision to make."

Klein sent a private memo to Dobbs staffers yesterday saying the birther story is "dead" and questioning its legitimacy, but Dobbs has continued to discuss it on the air, anyway. Klein said the memo wasn't a sign of concern, however, calling that conclusion "overblown."

Asked if CNN would take any action if Dobbs continued airing the birther theories, Klein said No: "I think no good journalist would ever say that a particular story will never be covered again. Every day brings new facts, new pegs."

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Lou Dobbs, Jon Klein
Show/Publication
Lou Dobbs Tonight
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