Media Matters to Klein: Dobbs Represents 'Ongoing Threat'; Prime-Time Host's Appearance at Anti-Immigration Rally on Capitol Hill Causes Further Problems for CNN's Credibility

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jessica Levin (202) 772-8162

jlevin@mediamatters.org

Media Matters to Klein: Dobbs Represents 'Ongoing Threat'; Prime-Time Host's Appearance at Anti-Immigration Rally on Capitol Hill Causes Further Problems for CNN's Credibility

WASHINGTON - Today, Media
Matters for America
President Eric Burns issued an open letter to
CNN President Jonathan Klein regarding prime-time anchor Lou Dobbs'
scheduled appearance on September 15 and 16 at the "Hold Their Feet to
the Fire" legislative advocacy event and rally sponsored by the anti-immigration
organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR, an
organization that has been designated
a "hate group"
by the Southern Poverty Law Center and that has been sharply
criticized for its racially-tinged ads, was founded
by John Tanton, who has a long history of making racist statements and espousing racist
beliefs.

A FAIR press release announced that Dobbs will broadcast his show from
the rally and will be joined by 47 conservative talk radio hosts.

Burns writes, in part:

"Mr. Dobbs represents an ongoing threat to CNN's credibility
as a serious news organization, in no small part because of his polemical
coverage of immigration issues and his continued use of his CNN show to lend
prominence to groups such as FAIR. The attention and legitimacy he gave to the
"birther" movement -- and CNN's condoning of his actions --
did real damage to that credibility. His participation in the upcoming FAIR
rally would do further, serious damage. We urge you to finally acknowledge that
Mr. Dobbs' actions in this and other contexts are inconsistent with the
reputation that CNN strives to maintain."

The complete text of the letter reads:

August 28, 2009

Dear Mr. Klein:

On September 15 and 16, Lou Dobbs is scheduled to broadcast from
Capitol Hill as a leading voice of the annual "Hold Their Feet to the
Fire" two-day legislative advocacy conference and rally sponsored by the
Federation for  American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Including Mr. Dobbs, the
event will feature 47 conservative talk radio hosts from around the country. We
write to urge you to prohibit Mr. Dobbs from participating in this event.

FAIR is a rabidly anti-immigrant organization founded by an unrepentant
racist, who remains on its board. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated
FAIR a "hate group."
Mr. Dobbs' participation -- and, inextricably, CNN's -- would bestow
legitimacy on the rally and on FAIR, as the group itself recognizes and touts.
In announcing its 2008 "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" conference (from
which Mr. Dobbs was allowed to broadcast
his CNN television show), the FAIR Congressional Task Force boasted in a press
release
that Mr. Dobbs' "prominence will add to
the visibility and stature of an event that has already had an enormous impact
on the national debate about immigration policy." FAIR's website
approvingly stated that in 2007, "talk radio and cable news programs such
as Dobbs' " helped turn the public against immigration reform
efforts, which it labels as "amnesty." The press
release
announcing this year's rally notes that it will
be "led by Roger Hedgecock ... and Lou Dobbs." In addition, the group has
given
Mr. Dobbs its "People's Voice Award"
for "his continued efforts in leading the immigration reform movement
through both his talk radio show and his television show."

CNN's association with FAIR through Mr. Dobbs is nothing less
than a stain on an organization that calls itself "The Most Trusted Name
in News." FAIR was founded
by John Tanton, who still sits on the organization's board
of directors
. Tanton has a long history of making racist
statements, espousing racist beliefs, and funding racist organizations. In
1986, Tanton reportedly wrote:
"As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will
they simply go quietly into the night?" In 1993, he reportedly wrote:
"I've come to the point of view that for European-American society
and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one
at that." In 1997, Tanton was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying that without a reduction in
immigration levels, the United
States will be overwhelmed by people
"defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs." In 2001,
Tanton reportedly praised
the work of John Trevor, a notorious Nazi sympathizer, saying his work should
form "a guidepost to what we must follow again this time." Tanton
is not a relic of FAIR's past: In the organization's 2004
annual report
, chairman of the board of directors Nancy Anthony wrote that
Tanton's "visionary qualities have not waned one bit. He stills
floods us with more ideas than we can possibly absorb."

In March, Dobbs' CNN show
reported that FAIR "supports a temporary moratorium on immigration."
FAIR executive director Dan Stein has been quoted saying the following:
"Many [immigrants] hate America,
hate everything the United
States stands for. Talk to some of these
Central Americans."

FAIR has been sharply criticized in the media for racially tinged ads.
A 2000 campaign ad the group ran against former Sen. Spencer Abraham, a Lebanese-American,
attacked his support for making more visas available for foreign workers and
accused him of "trying to make it easier for terrorists like Osama bin
Laden to export their way of terror to any city street in America."
In 2004, a group of FAIR-backed ads targeting former Texas Democrat Martin Frost
and former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel featured dark-skinned men loitering on
street corners and running from the police. The Dallas Morning News denounced the ads in an April 2004
editorial, calling them "as racially tinged as those Willie Horton ads the
late Mr. [Lee] Atwater
put together for the first President Bush during his 1988 White House
bid." In an April 24, 2004, editorial, the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal
Star
called the ads "trash" that "incite hate,"
"play upon stereotypical racial fears," and "are full of
half-truths and lies.'"

And yet, rather than denouncing the group, Mr. Dobbs' CNN show
has cited FAIR as a credible source on immigration issues no fewer than six
times in the last year while also routinely failing to disclose his close
association with the group.

There should be no doubt concerning the content of the upcoming rally.
It will give a platform to precisely the type of radio host you, Mr. Klein,
reportedly said would no longer be invited on CNN. Speakers last
year
included Les Kinsolving, a WorldNetDaily.com columnist
who asked
Robert Gibbs at a White House press briefing why the president won't
release his "long-form birth certificate." Another speaker from last
year, South Florida radio host Joyce Kaufman, has reportedly said of undocumented
immigrants: "If you commit a crime while you're here, we should hang you
and send your body back to where you came from, and your family should pay for
it." Also on the roster last year was Steve Gill, a Nashville radio host who has said of
President Obama: "This man, and his evil minions, really do hate this
country." Jeff Katz, while a radio host in Sacramento, reportedly
"said motorists should be awarded a sombrero-shaped bumper sticker for
every illegal immigrant hit while
attempting to cross the border from Mexico," adding, in the words of the Sacramento Bee, that "[f]or every 10
bumper stickers ... a motorist would earn a free drink or meal at Taco
Bell."

As Media Matters has
highlighted repeatedly, Mr. Dobbs represents an ongoing threat to CNN's
credibility as a serious news organization, in no small part because of his polemical
coverage of immigration issues and his continued use of his CNN show to lend
prominence to groups such as FAIR. The attention and legitimacy he gave to the
"birther" movement -- and CNN's condoning of his actions --
did real damage to that credibility. His participation in the upcoming FAIR
rally would do further, serious damage. We urge you to finally acknowledge that
Mr. Dobbs' actions in this and other contexts are inconsistent with the
reputation that CNN strives to maintain.

We await your response.

Sincerely,

Eric Burns

President

Media Matters for America

###

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

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