Was CNN Host Lou Dobbs Really Shot At?
Statements by New Jersey state police are putting Dobbs' claim that he and his wife had been shot at into question.
After CNN host Lou Dobbs stated this past Monday on his radio show that "my wife has now been and I have been shot at," right-wing pundits and nativist groups are rallying to his cause.
Dobbs' discussion of the alleged shooting incident, which had occurred three weeks prior to the October 26 broadcast of the Lou Dobbs show, included mention of both longtime critic and FOX host Geraldo Rivera and the immigrant advocacy organizations calling for his removal from CNN including the National Council of La Raza, America's Voice and other "ethnocentric interest groups."
Without specifying who he suspects of making the alleged threats, he also said on his radio show that "They've threatened my wife, they've now fired a shot at my house while my wife was standing next to the car."
The incident prompted the president of Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC), a group that advocates greater restrictions on immigration, to declare that "The lies and hate coming from these radical pro-illegal alien groups is now manifesting in the form of gunfire." ALIPAC president William Gheen characterized this "Attack on the Dobbs Family" as "An Attack On All Americans That Value Our 1st Amendment Rights!"
In a post titled "Lou Dobbs discusses physical attacks, harrassment" Michelle Malkin also chimed in yesterday about the "open-borders mob... busy trying to shut down the speech of illegal immigration critics."
And concern about the incident was also echoed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who interviewed Dobbs yesterday, and characterized the incident as "very scary."
But were Lou Dobbs and his wife really "shot at" as he claimed?
Sergeant 1st class Stephen Jones, a NJ police spokesperson I interviewed by telephone yesterday, chuckled out loud after he heard about Dobbs' account of the gunfire incident. Jones commented that he "wouldn't classify it [the gunfire incident] as very unusual." He also confirmed that there are hunters in the area, and stated that, "at this time of year hunter [shooting] complaints go up."
He observed that in the ongoing police investigation sparked by Dobbs' complaint, "nothing has been determined [regarding] what the intended target for this bullet was." Nor did Jones confirm whether the shots near Dobbs' house appeared to be an accident or intentional.
Another New Jersey police spokesperson, Julian Castellanos, noted that "it's a wide open area and there are hunters in the area." Castellanos explained that the bullet had hit the house in vicinity of the attic; it "hit the vinyl siding and fell to the ground" without penetrating the vinyl, he said.
While Lou Dobbs' wife, Debi Dobbs, was standing outside the house at the time of the gunfire, the bullet did not come close to her; it "struck at the apex of the house, near the roof," and thus considerably higher than a standing person, Jones observed.
Jones says he had not seen any mention of death threats in the reports about this incident. As Dobbs stated on his October 26 radio show, the CNN host had "decided not to report" "threatening phone calls" he says he has received.
Asked what he thought of Dobbs' version of the gunfire incident, Sgt Jones stated, "I'm really going to leave Lou Dobbs' assessment to himself."
Julie Hollar of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting--a media watchdog group at which I worked for two years), was more forthcoming in her assessment of Dobbs' version of events. Hollar, who has written extensively on Dobbs for FAIR's magazine Extra!, commented that "It would hardly be surprising to find more misinformation smearing immigrants and their supporters coming from a guy who has been spreading such misinformation for years." She added that "The tragic thing is that so many people suffer actual violence at the hands of those whose xenophobic hatred is aggravated by Dobbs and his kind."
© 2009 Isabel MacDonald