For Immediate Release
Jessica Levin (202) 772-8162
CNN President Tells a Whopper in His Defense of Dobbs
WASHINGTON - Today, Media Matters for America responded to CNN president
Jonathan Klein's latest misrepresentation of Lou
Dobbs' coverage of birth certificate conspiracies and his suggestion
Dobbs' coverage has been "legitimate." Yesterday, Klein told
TV reporters that Dobbs' coverage of the issue has been "all about
the phenomenon of doubters" -- with
Klein suggesting that Dobbs has done nothing more than host discussions
of why "some people doubt" that President Obama is a U.S.-born citizen.
Klein is not telling the truth. Dobbs has done
far more than simply ask why there are still people who doubt Obama's
citizenship. He has legitimized their conspiracy theories by demanding
Obama produce documentation -- to prove something that Klein himself
acknowledges is beyond doubt.
attempt to again brush off this controversy -- with falsehoods -- raises even
more concerns about the standards of journalism at CNN," said
Eric Burns, president of Media Matters.
"Rather than misleading the public, he should credibly address CNN's still
growing Dobbs problem by simply
telling the truth."
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Klein addressed
the controversy during the Television Critics Association press tour. The transcript of reporters'
questions and Klein's
answers is as follows [emphasis added]:
Dobbs wanted to explore whether the British had won the Revolutionary War,
would that be a legitimate topic?
It would not be legitimate for Lou or anyone
else at CNN to explore whether Barack Obama is an American citizen. That's why he hasn't done that. And I
think the people who are making noise about that have to look at closely what the
discussions have been. It's
all about the phenomenon of doubters.
you distinguishing from what he said on his radio show?
yes, absolutely. We have no control over what he says on his radio show. It's not a CNN radio
program so he does what he does on the radio separate from what he does on our
air. So we ask you and anyone writing about this, to look at what he says on
CNN. It's the
only thing we control.
Are you concerned, though, that it will damage your credibility?
hope not. All we can do is do great reporting about the facts on this and every
other story that we cover.
But if he goes on his radio show and contradicts your reporting and then raises
the same issue on the air, isn't
there some need for somebody to balance that?
he does on the radio is separate and apart from what he does on our air. On our
air, he has said very clearly and repeatedly that Barack Obama is an American
citizen. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
Of that there is no doubt. He must have said it 10 times the last time he did
the story. So he couldn't
be clearer about that. Now, a couple of times
he's hosted panel discussions about this phenomenon: Why do some people doubt
it still? That's
what those discussions are about. There's a real distinction. Does that make
But he also asks: Why haven't
they produced the documents when they have, in fact, produced the documents?
That's why I sent
that note the other day -- to clarify. We had our guys ask that question. It
turns out, he can't.
It's not up to
him. It's not the
choice. Lou has now stated that. What he then turns around and does on his
radio show is not within our purview.
Is it a topic you'd
rather see him drop at this point?
I would rather all of our leading journalists rely on their best judgments and
instincts and our guidance about them. We believe in the editorial compass of
all of our people. It's
going to be different according to the individual. But that just makes us a
more interesting and vibrant place. Lou is listening to a certain segment of
the population all day long on his radio show so naturally that's going to inform some
of the decisions that he makes. But, again,
to be clear: He is not exploring the question of whether Barack Obama is an
American citizen. That is settled. It is a dead issue as far as CNN is
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