For Immediate Release
CNN: More Like Fox Every Day
Latino in America a Charade without Mention of Dobbs
following is a statement by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of
America's Voice, about the upcoming CNN series "Latino in America,"
scheduled to begin airing on October 22nd.
Last night, some of my colleagues at America's Voice went to the Washington premier of CNN's upcoming special, Latino in America.
We've been waiting to see how this highly publicized series would
handle one of the biggest menaces facing Latinos in America: CNN's Lou
But, last night we
heard from CNN executive Mark Nelson that the series doesn't mention
the role of the media in general nor the role of his network in
particular in propagating myths about Latinos. Reportedly, he went on
to suggest that the way to change views about Latinos was to have more
CNN must know that
Dobbs is considered a major force in making life difficult for the
Latino community. Just two weeks ago, Democracia Ahora released survey
titled, "Latino Leaders and Their Opinions of CNN's Lou Dobbs." The report finds that an astounding 90% of Latino Leaders believe Dobbs makes it harder to be Latino in America.
America's Voice, along with Media Matters, NDN, and Presente.org,
has called on CNN to drop Dobbs from its lineup. The case against him
is compelling. My colleague, Adam Luna, wrote about Dobbs' extreme
anti-immigrant background at Huffington Post:
individuals have done more to bring extremism and race-based hate
speech into the mainstream than Lou Dobbs. The network that purports
to be "the most trusted name in news" broadcasts his vitriol every
weekday during primetime - sandwiched between Anderson Cooper, John
King, Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash.
Watch just a couple of episodes and you'll see how he throws around the
term "criminal illegal aliens" with the spite and frequency of a
mid-century Southern politician using the N-word. In Dobbs' world,
immigrants are disease ridden criminals who kill cops and are plotting
for revolution. Bogus claims that immigrants are bringing a new wave of leprosy to America might be taken with a grain of salt on Fox - but on CNN, it's news.
When it comes to the controversial issue of immigration reform, Dobbs
is no ordinary commentator. Check out this key finding from a study
conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew
Research Center, "News Coverage of Immigration 2007," which can be
news agenda on cable to some extent depends not only on the channel but
also on the host of the program. Among all the cable talkers, the one
who was most clearly devoted to the cause of immigration was CNN's Lou
Dobbs. While throughout the whole year immigration was the number one
story at 22%, during [the Senate immigration debate] it skyrocketed to
43.1% of the time studied on Dobbs. Besides offering a timeline of the
immigration bill debates within the Senate, Dobbs openly criticized the
bill as an amnesty bill for illegal aliens in the country, pointed out
how the bill would cost taxpayers a lot of money, and emphasized the
need for better border security, which according to him was not a part
of the proposed bill. He also was critical of George Bush, Ted Kennedy,
Michael Chertoff, Lindsay Graham, Trent Lott and their stance on
immigration. The night the immigration bill failed, Dobbs began his
program with these words: "Tonight the crushing defeat for President
Bush and the Senate's Democratic leadership on amnesty, a glorious
victory for the American people."
victory" for Dobbs was a crushing defeat for many Latino families -
especially since in the aftermath of the bill's demise, the Bush
Administration - in a naked effort to pander to the nativists Dobbs
stirs up on a daily basis - ramped up enforcement so much that most
mixed-status families now live in daily fear of being stopped,
questioned, detained, and permanently separated.
So, given the
outsized role Dobbs has played in demonizing Latino immigrants as
criminals and disease carriers and defeating reform that would benefit
millions of Latinos in America, one would expect that a series hosted
by Soledad O'Brien, a professional journalist with a reputation for
fairness and integrity, would at least reference the nation's chief
No. Was it
intentional? Was O'Brien ordered to avoid this contentious intra-CNN
issue? Is comity around the corridors of CNN more important than
Truth is, when it comes to Latinos in America, Lou Dobbs is the
elephant in the room. If the "Latino in America" series is to be
considered credible, doesn't the series have to deal with that fact?
Moreover, isn't it time for the serious journalists at CNN to stand up
for the network's brand and their own reputations? Isn't it time for
journalists to stand up to executives who sully the reputation of this
once-great news network every time they put Lou Dobbs on the air?
Well, there's still time. But is there hope? We'll see when the series begins to air on October 22nd.