Who will mainstream right-wing attacks with Beck's lieutenant gone from CNN?

With Lou Dobbs' departure from CNN, Glenn Beck and the right-wing media have lost one of their lieutenants in their campaign to mainstream conservative misinformation. On both his TV and radio show, Dobbs has ceaselessly attacked President Obama, members of his administration, and other progressives, and repeatedly adopted the falsehoods and smears that have emerged from right-wing sources.

“Mr. Independent” Dobbs: “I'm moving ... to being absolutely opposed to ... any policy [Obama] could conceive of”

Dobbs: Moving to “absolute oppos[ition]” of Obama policies. On August 6, Dobbs said on his radio show: “What do you think you're doing, Barack Obama? What kind of mindless, churlish, un-American nonsense are you ginning up this time? I'm moving from being an independent, sir, to being absolutely opposed to your -- any policy you could conceive of.” [United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/6/09]

Dobbs defended Beck for “stand[ing] up to” Obama. Discussing Beck's statements that Obama is a “racist” and has “a deep-seated hatred for white people,” Dobbs said: “So, by the way, I've got to say hats off to Glenn Beck for having the guts to stand up to this -- this morass of mediocrity and pure, pure ideology.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/8/09]

Dobbs joined Fox News' Beck-led witch hunt against administration officials

Dobbs echoed Beck's attacks on Dunn, Bloom, Jones, Lloyd. Throughout most of his October 15 Fox News program, Beck falsely claimed that comments White House communications director Anita Dunn made about Mao Zedong showed that Dunn “worships” and “idolizes” “her hero” Mao, ignoring numerous conservatives who have approvingly cited the tactics of Mao, Vladimir Lenin, and the Viet Cong, stated that they had used those tactics in their political work or have otherwise highlighted their philosophies. Subsequently, on October 16, Dobbs also attacked Dunn for citing Mao. Later, on October 20, Beck attacked Ron Bloom, whom he identified as the “manufacturing czar,” for citing Mao. Later that same day, Dobbs attacked Bloom, claiming to have “uncovered yet another White House adviser quoting Mao.” Additionally, Dobbs has repeatedly lauded Beck and Fox News for their attacks on former Obama administration green jobs adviser Van Jones. Dobbs has also attacked FCC chief diversity officer Mark Lloyd, a target of Beck's witch hunt.

Dobbs pushed Fox's false smears of Jennings. On his CNN show, Dobbs repeatedly echoed the Sean Hannity-fueled false smear that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings covered up a sexual relationship between a 15-year-old boy and an older man, even after CNN had itself debunked it. Dobbs also advanced the claim that Jennings “promoted homosexuality” and “openly expressed a hostility toward organized religions” .

Dobbs joined Beck, Limbaugh, others in smearing Sotomayor as “racist.” On the May 26 broadcast of his radio show, Dobbs called then-Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's “wise Latina” comments “racist.” Dobbs also added of Sotomayor's nomination: “This is pure, pure absolute pandering to the Hispanics, and, you know, filling in the box on one more minority that -- who is actually, you know, they are actually a majority -- and that is women.” Earlier that day, Rush Limbaugh had said of Sotomayor: “So here you have a racist. You might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And the libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don't have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he's appointed one.” The next day, on the May 27 broadcast of his radio program, Beck similarly claimed of Sotomayor: “I think she's a racist. I think she has decided things based on race.”

Echoing Drudge's misleading headline, Dobbs claimed “Holder is on his way to speak to a CAIR-linked group.” On November 10, Dobbs claimed that Attorney General Eric Holder was “on his way to speak to a CAIR-linked group,” referring to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Dobbs was echoing a misleading headline from the Drudge Report. In fact, Holder addressed the group, Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust, which lists as its “participating organizations” not only CAIR but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the FBI, several police groups, and the NAACP.

Echoing Fox News' witch hunt, Dobbs attacked Obama's “commissars,” “czars” en masse. On April 16, Dobbs attacked Obama's cabinet secretaries, saying they “are acting like commissars in the old Soviet Union.” Dobbs added: “It's time for them to get rolled back. This is America, and it's not some fascist state.” Dobbs also attacked Obama officials he has labeled “czars,” claiming that, prior to the Obama administration, “the highest number of czars that we were able to document in our own reporting ... was during the Clinton administration, and he had only 10 czars.” However, according to The Washington Post, former President Bush “had 36 czar positions filled by 46 people during his eight years as president.”

Dobbs promoted right-wing's birtherism

Dobbs repeatedly promoted false claim that Obama has not released a valid birth certificate. Dobbs has repeatedly made and stood by the false claim that Obama has not released a valid birth certificate. Indeed, on September 30, Dobbs said he “still feel[s] the same exact way,” that Obama should produce a “doggone birth certificate” and “shut all the nonsense down.” [9/30/09]

By promoting birth certificate claims, Dobbs mainstreamed people with radical views. Dobbs has argued that “birthers” are “regular Americans who don't have any representation.” Media Matters for America has documented some of the leading figures within the birther community and the views they've espoused, including Andy Martin, who has made anti-Semitic and racially charged comments; 9-11 “Truther” Philip Berg; perennial candidate for public office Alan Keyes, who has reportedly accused Obama of taking the “slaveholder's position” on abortion; a pastor who has prayed for Obama's death; and the discredited right-wing website WorldNetDaily.

Dobbs repeatedly echoed false or baseless right-wing claims about health care reform

Dobbs: Dems using Fort Hood shooting as “cover” to pass health reform in House. On November 6, responding to a caller who said that the House vote on the health care reform bill should be postponed because of the attack at Fort Hood, Dobbs responded: "[Y]ou know what? They are using it just as they would the cover of night. This just gives them more cover to pull this stunt." (Discussing the Fort Hood case on another occasion, Dobbs said that a caller made a “good point” in suggesting American Muslim soldiers must be “thoroughly screened.” ) [The Lou Dobbs Show, 11/6/09]

Echoing right-wing falsehood, Dobbs asked of “end-of-life” counseling: “What's next? Euthanasia?” Dobbs has suggested that health care reform efforts could ultimately lead to “euthanasia,” echoing a discredited right-wing myth that a provision in the House health care reform bill would require that seniors receive “mandatory” end-of-life counseling sessions that would, in Betsy McCaughey's words, “tell them how to end their life sooner.” Versions of this myth have been repeated by Hannity, Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and The Washington Times. Like Dobbs, Fox News' Dick Morris said of health care reform efforts that senior citizens are “getting that this is creeping euthanasia” and Fox News' Peter Johnson Jr. suggested that the House legislation is “a subtle form of euthanasia.”

Dobbs echoed Drudge and Limbaugh in faulting Obama for lack of familiarity with nonexistent provision. After Obama said he was “not familiar” with health care reform opponents' false talking point that the House bill would ban individual private health insurance, the Drudge Report, a Heritage Foundation blog, and Limbaugh all falsely claimed on July 21 that Obama, in Limbaugh's words, “admit[ted] he doesn't know” what's in the House health care bill. Dobbs echoed that argument on his radio show later that day, saying that “this legislation that President Obama says the time for talk is over, it has to be passed by the first of August, and he doesn't even know what's in it.”

Dobbs helped McCaughey advance falsehood that stimulus allows government to eliminate care it “deems unnecessary.” Dobbs introduced serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey on his CNN show by asserting that “hidden deep within the stimulus package are provisions that could greatly limit the health care that we all receive. My next guest says those provisions, in fact, could give the federal government unprecedented control over our medical treatment.” Dobbs then let McCaughey falsely claim that the health information technology provision in the economic recovery legislation would allow the federal government to eliminate "[w]hatever [it] deems unnecessary care." [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 2/10/09]

Dobbs suggested health care reform would deny liver transplants to alcoholics. On his July 21 radio show, Dobbs said: “By the way, there was an incredible story about a young man, 22 years old, who was an alcoholic, who was denied a liver transplant by the British Health Service, and he died because the British Health Service decided that he was not a fit risk for a liver transplant. I mean, we're talking about turning over life-and-death decisions to a government. And that should, it seems to me, trouble the most -- I don't know -- the most ardent supporter of health care at any cost in this country.” However, according to a National Institutes of Health publication, similar criteria are currently in use in the U.S. for transplant candidates with alcoholic liver disease [ALD]: “Some transplant programs and insurance companies insist on an absolute 6-month period of abstinence before a patient with ALD can be listed for liver transplantation.”

Dobbs praised caller who canceled AARP membership over health reform. On his radio show, Dobbs took a caller who said he had canceled his AARP membership. Dobbs said “that's the only influence you would have over what AARP decides to do,” then proceeded to attack the “2,032-page” health care bill. Dobbs' comments about AARP echoed several conservative media figures who attacked the group for supporting the health reform bill.

Dobbs pushed claim that “most Americans don't want health care reform.” Echoing assertions by Republican pollster Frank Luntz and others, Dobbs said to Fox News host Mike Huckabee that “most Americans don't want health care reform.” Dobbs has also falsely suggested that the public option will be costly.

Dobbs played up anti-health care reform protests. On November 4, Dobbs hyped a Capitol Hill protest against health care reform promoted by Fox News personalities. The next day, Dobbs asserted that the “town hall meetings were for nothing,” and said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are “telling the American people to go straight to hell.”

Dobbs echoed GOP talking point about length of bill. Dobbs has repeatedly highlighted the length of various versions of health care reform legislation, echoing a Republican talking point.

Dobbs: Rep. Wilson “did a public service.” Speaking of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelling, “You lie,” during Obama's address to a joint session of Congress, Dobbs called it an “absolute breach of protocol,” but later added that Wilson “did a public service.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/15/09]

Dobbs defended compatriots in right-wing media

Dobbs has repeatedly praised conservative media figures and defended them from progressives' criticisms. Dobbs has repeatedly defended his compatriots in the conservative media, including his defense of Beck for “standing up to” the Obama administration. Examples include:

  • Dobbs defended Fox News from attacks from “the left-wing Democratic playbook” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 10/21/09]
  • Dobbs called Jerome Corsi a “terrific author” and praised his new “amazing book.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 10/21/09]
  • Dobbs has also praised Corsi as a “pretty good guy to talk to” about immigration. [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/15/09]
  • Dobbs lauded ABC's Jake Tapper's “extraordinary exchange” defending Fox as a real news organization. [The Lou Dobbs Show, 10/20/09]
  • Dobbs attacked author Tim Wise, who had criticized Limbaugh, saying that Wise's “racist hogwash” is that of a “self-loathing creep ... who really has no attachment to the country.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/14/09]
  • Dobbs interviewed Michelle Malkin during a book tour and said, “We're going to flog your book on television as well as radio.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/4/09]
  • Dobbs defended Limbaugh's assertion that “the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/7/09]

Dobbs repeatedly used right-wing talking points to attack Obama, progressives

Dobbs attacks on Obama in lockstep with right-wing media. Dobbs has echoed conservative media attacks on Obama and his administration numerous times:

  • Dobbs defended Beck over his statement that Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/8/09]
  • Discussing comments by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka on town hall disruptions, Dobbs claimed, "[W]hat this White House is leading us to is direct confrontation, a physical confrontation." [The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/7/09]
  • Dobbs' website responded to Obama's winning the Nobel Peace Prize by asking if Obama, former Vice President Al Gore, former President Jimmy Carter, or late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat “was most deserving of their Nobel Peace Prize.” [LouDobbs.com, 10/9/09]
  • Dobbs joined Beck and Limbaugh in cheering Chicago's lost Olympic bid, stating, “Chicago, well they were smeared ... and the Obamas slammed.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 10/2/09]
  • Dobbs cited Obama's “controversial back-to-school speech,” student videos, as examples of “indoctrination in the classroom,” and also said that Obama was “trying to indoctrinate our kids.” [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/30/09; The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/8/09]
  • Dobb stated that he found “a lot of truth” in a New York Post column by retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters suggesting that we don't have a “pro-American president.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/30/09]
  • Dobbs has repeatedly attacked the White House for creating an email address to which people can send health care misinformation, asking if the Obama administration is creating “an enemies list.”
  • Dobbs cited a debunked claim about the Cash for Clunkers website Cars.gov in order to accuse the administration of being an “authoritarian regime in waiting.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/7/09]
  • Echoing Fox News' "apology tour" smear, a Dobbs viewer poll asked whether you are “concerned” that Obama “seems compelled to continue to apologize for the United States.” [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 6/4/09]
  • Taking a cue from Beck, Dobbs advanced attacks on the administration for creating a “left-wing propaganda” educational video. [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/22/09]
  • Echoing a Limbaugh talking point, Dobbs asked: “If we can't criticize the public policies of a black president, can we have a black president?” Dobbs has also said that the Obama administration, the Democratic Party, and “much of the liberal media” are “basically ... saying if you criticize this administration, you're a racist.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/18/09; 8/11/09]
  • Echoing Beck, Dobbs referred to ACORN's decision to appoint former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger to lead an internal inquiry into the organization as “such a sham” and called for “a full, and, I mean, absolutely righteous, vigorous, investigation of everyone running that organization, everything it's tried to do,” and “its relationship to the Obama administration.” Dobbs added: “I truly believe, unless there is that full-blown FBI investigation that you've asked for of ACORN, that -- you know, that is, to me, prima facie evidence that this Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder, has been absolutely politicized to the point that it is not functioning and serving the interests of the American people or this country.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/22/09]
  • Dobbs did a segment on gun sales, in which he asserted that the number of gun sales “show[s] that gun owners are increasingly concerned that the Obama administration is on a mission to restrict Second Amendment rights in this country.” Dobbs featured numerous conservative advocates during the segment. [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/28/09]

Dobbs has also repeatedly attacked other Democrats and progressives. Dobbs' attacks on other Democrats and progressives have included:

  • Dobbs ran with a false claim on Andrew Breitbart's website, Breitbart.tv, that an online video showed community organizers from the Gamaliel Foundation “pray[ing]” to Obama. Breitbart.tv subsequently updated the original post with an editor's note acknowledging that “there is a debate over what is actually being said” and that the crowd may, in fact, be saying “oh God” rather than “Obama” ; the Gamaliel Foundation subsequently stated that “at no time have we prayed to President Obama” and that in the video, the organizers “can be heard saying, 'Hear our cry oh God,' 'Deliver us oh God,' etc.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/29/09]
  • Dobbs praised a caller's “persuasive” argument that Dems in Congress are “un-American.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 10/22/09]
  • Dobbs repeatedly mischaracterized a comment by Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to claim that she called health care reform opponents un-American and used that mischaracterization to assert that there is “hypocrisy ... raging from the left.” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/10/09; Lou Dobbs Tonight, 8/10/09]
  • Dobbs also attacked Pelosi's assertion that there were swastikas at town hall disruptions, falsely claiming that "[n]obody's been able to find a single swastika at these town hall meetings." [The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/7/09]
  • Dobbs misrepresented another statement by Pelosi to falsely claim she said “immigration law enforcement is, quote-unquote, 'un-American.' ” [The Lou Dobbs Show, 3/24/09]
  • Responding to a caller joking that Pelosi is sprayed with Prozac, Dobbs asked, “Is that what makes her face so tight?” As Media Matters has documented, numerous conservatives have attacked Pelosi's looks. [The Lou Dobbs Show, 7/16/09]