As he made clear during his final broadcast on CNN, Lou Dobbs doesn't intend to disappear. But while his future is unclear, it seems obvious that his departure from the network has made Dobbs all the more willing to advance conservative misinformation whenever given the opportunity.
His recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart may very well have been a foreshadowing of things to come. When asked to explain the basis of the newfound right-wing rage stoked by Fox News and other conservative broadcasters, Dobbs contrasted the Obama administration with that of George W. Bush.
“What is different this time,” he said, “is an attorney general who actually began speaking about a few changes to the Second Amendment.” He continued, adding that the administration is “not reflecting the majority view, whether it be health care or whether it be cap and trade.”
All three of these assertions are commonly parroted by right-wing broadcasters -- and all three are false. The idea that the Obama administration intends to limit gun rights has been a focus of conservative fear-mongering since before Obama took office. Dobbs advanced it on CNN and on his radio program; Glenn Beck has pushed it, as has FoxNation.com, which accused Sonia Sotomayor of being an anti-gun judge. While such charges are baseless -- no significant legislation curtailing gun ownership has been advanced by President Obama, who this past May actually signed a bill containing an expansion of gun rights in national parks -- they are not inconsequential. For example, Richard Popolawski, the disturbed young man who shot three Pittsburgh policemen in April, was convinced that the government intended to take away his guns.
Dobbs' claim that the American people oppose Democratic health care reform proposals is similarly misleading. As right-wing broadcasters have routinely done, Dobbs intentionally ignored numerous polls indicating that a clear majority supports the creation of a public health care option, a central component of reform efforts.
Similarly, while support for cap-and-trade legislation has at times been split, an October CNN poll found that 60 percent of respondents supported the legislation, with only 37 percent opposing it.
Maintaining such falsehoods is necessary for broadcasters like Dobbs, who contend that the government is out of touch with the political “middle” that represents the true spirit of America. “Again, you're watching the body politic trying to bring this country back to the center,” he told Stewart, “and they are frightened by extremism, whether it is left or whether it is right, and frankly I think everybody should be.”
But as Media Matters has conclusively documented, on an issue-by-issue basis, consistent polling over a broad historical period has shown that a majority of the American people support progressive policy positions.
Of course, acknowledging such realities would make it impossible for Dobbs to play the role of political savior, rescuing the country from the grips of an unresponsive and out-of-control government -- which is exactly why he ignores them.