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Sep. 23 2009 - 1:14 pm | 226 views | 2 recommendations | 21 comments

Lou Dobbs confronts Latino movement to dislodge him from CNN

Latino and immigrant advocates have trained their cross-hairs on a big target: CNN anchor Lou Dobbs. They’ve vowed to take him down through a campaign that will embarrass CNN into dumping him. The reason? Because before there was Rep. Joe Wilson, Lou Dobbs arguably had the loudest megaphone of all the nation’s immigration hardliners. Dobbs, instead of ignoring the forces arrayed against him, has decided to fight back. It’s a full-fledged media battle.

Some context: for  years, from the perch of his nightly show, Dobbs has relentlessly espoused his conservative, and sometimes crackpot views on immigration. It’s widely known he has reported as fact a supposed “reconquista” movement through which Mexico, in cahoots with its U.S.-based immigrants, wants to reclaim the southwestern United States. He has also reported on supposed epidemics of voter fraud and leprosy, attributing them to illegal immigration. Dobbs’s critics also question his show’s obsessive emphasis on immigration. For example, a Media Matters analysis of CNN transcripts for the first six months of 2009 found Dobbs devoted, on average, 528 words to immigration topics per broadcast hour, compared to about 40 for CNN’s preceding show, “The Situation Room.” Then there’s the Dobbs slant. Virtually every segment he airs on illegal  immigration connects it to crime, disease, or economic malaise.

It’s well-known Dobbs received a virtual restraining order from his CNN chiefs to stop him from further pursuit of the Obama birth certificate story. It isn’t as widely known he’s receiving a drubbing on immigration, not via CNN execs, but from increasingly vocal, and organized, Latino progressives. Last night, Lou Dobbs responded on his radio show to one of his antagonists, Roberto Lovato, a Salvadoran-American writer and activist with a long track record of working on Latino issues in media and community-based organizations (acknowledgment: I have been Roberto’s friend for a half-dozen years).

Earlier this week, Lovato published an op-ed essay in The Huffington Post and Alternet, blasting Dobbs for “playing victim” and hiding behind the first amendment, as a growing chorus of Latino activists demand his head. In the radio response aired last night, Dobbs refers to Lovato as a “flea.” But if Lovato’s a tiny insect, Dobbs sure did use up a great deal of airtime swatting him away. Maybe I’m biased, but it appears to me Dobbs feels the pressure. He gives a lengthy, vitriolic response. The audio of Dobbs’s response is available at Media Matters, which by the way has also called for Dobbs’s removal from CNN. I took the trouble of typing out a transcript below.

You know … I just want to … I’ve just got to … I’ve just got to bring this to you … This guy Roberto Lovato who’s a non-entity, but he’s one of my fleas, writing in Alternet saying ‘Dobbs plays the victim as movement demanding CNN dump him grows.’ I mean he’s one of these delusional left wing activists who doesn’t care a whit about the truth, he has nothing to do with the truth.

But what’s really interesting is he’s trying to … he’s … he’s just … he’s playing just one heck of a stupid game … He writes, ‘faced with a growing movement of communities demanding CNN drop his program Lou Dobbs responded Friday with one of his favorite postures, the victimized defender of American virtue.’ Now let me, let me be real clear with you Roberto, I’m not, I’m not a victim of anything. You know, I’m just, I’m just a dog and you’re one of my fleas.

Uh, you know, this nonsense that he writes. He says ‘Not surprisingly Dobbs is waving the first amendment flag to change the subject.’ First of all, first Roberto, don’t be a bozo anymore than you can help. The first amendment metaphor would not be a flag, it’s an amendment, its in the Constitution, it’s one of my rights it’s one of yours. You’re the one trying to deny my rights. And don’t be such … you know, don’t be so silly.

And the fact is, you wouldn’t be accusing me of anything if I were supporting illegal immigration and amnesty, and you’re not even man enough to admit that straight up. You are a typical left wing activist coward propagandist, trying to use the constitution that enables all of us to have free expression, trying to deny my rights. You’re trying to deny rights, while turning over this country to those who have no regard for our laws, for our rules, our customs, and the legal foundation of this country. I mean you’re just … you’re … Mr. Lovato, you’re a joke.

And I would like you to come on and defend, if you will, your own, yourself, against what I’m saying, because I consider you to be an outright fraud. And those who would follow you or listen to you, you’re simply duping, and you’re silly, just utterly silly.

Finally, below is a video on Lou Dobbs and immigration prepared by Washington D.C. pro-immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice.


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  1. collapse expand

    Dios mio! Does Lou Dobbs need an editor, or what? But, please, Dobbs and all the many nutjobs aside, from a progressive and an environmentalist point of view, what is good about illegal immigration?
    Sure, there are the remittances, but as foreign aid those are 10 cents on the dollar. Closer to home, it’s good for servant-keepers and for the captains of industry, but is it good for American workers or our environment? For that matter is it good for the rest of the world, those remain in their home countries suffering suffer the depredations of our murderous economy?
    Let’s try to rise above the nutjobs and talk seriously. Thanks.

  2. collapse expand

    I seem to remember a few years back, when I actually heard Lou Dobbs say some intelligent and reasonable things on his show. Not sure what happened to him.

    How long d’ya suppose it will be before Mr. Dobbs ends up over at Fox? At which point, he will lose what is left of his mind. Just like Glenn Beck did.

  3. collapse expand

    I interviewed Dobbs a few years ago for a profile about one of his regular guests, a hard right, immigration restrictionist from Tennessee. He was nice enough, but kept referring to himself in the third person. It was weird.

  4. collapse expand

    One of the comments brings up an interesting point– why doesn’t Dobbs simply move over to Fox, where his editorial flavor probably wouldn’t cause such a ruckus?

    And I wanted to reply to this comment, who questions the effects of illegal immigration:

    Sure, there are the remittances, but as foreign aid those are 10 cents on the dollar. Closer to home, it’s good for servant-keepers and for the captains of industry, but is it good for American workers or our environment?

    The problem isn’t really what to do about illegal immigration, we’ve militarized our border already, but what to do with the people that get here, and already are here. Those who favor a path to legal status for the nation’s 12 million undocumented immigrants, as I personally do, argue that to do so would help out the average U.S.-born worker. How? Because it would do away with the “false bottom” or “trap door” for wages created by the presence of many unauthorized foreign workers who labor for less than minimum wage and without protections. If undocumented workers were brought out of the shadows, the theory goes, wages would rise for everyone.

    So yes, servant-keepers and captains of industry do benefit from illegal immigration, but they would be able to exploit less if the channels for legal immigration were widened.

    As for the environment– whether it’s on the U.S. side or in Latin America and Asia, these folks are going to use resources either way. How does it help the environment to keep them in their home countries? I don’t subscribe to the idea that to keep the U.S. pristine (to the extent that it is), we have to keep everyone out. The environment is a global issue, not one that we can control solely on our side of the fence.

  5. collapse expand

    Dobbs is a bliovating egocentric jackass. The clown actually gave credence to that ridiculous “Birther” movement. That was it for me, once he took that stand I wrote him off.

    Criticize Obama all you want, there is a lot to criticize but lending legitimacy to that “Birther” insanity is way over the top and sabotages any credibility that he might have had previously.

  6. collapse expand

    The problem that Dobbs and others fail to understand–and something we live with everyday here in San Diego, 15 miles from Mexico–is that the problem with illegal immigration is the pull of a paying job. I’ve interviewed Border agents many times and they all say the same thing–without enforcement of hiring laws (or a human guest-worker proposal), we will never truly get a handle on illegal immigration. No amount of Dobbs’ stupidity on the air or money poured into militarizing the border will stop it. People risk their lives to get here because there are jobs for them when they do and no one really wants to enforce the laws on the hiring side, because illegals do the work that white legals don’t want to do–picking strawberries, cleaning toilets, clearing tables…

  7. collapse expand

    The last comment strikes the nail on the head as far as enforcement goes:

    … without enforcement of hiring laws (or a human guest-worker proposal), we will never truly get a handle on illegal immigration. No amount of Dobbs’ stupidity on the air or money poured into militarizing the border will stop it.

    I agree. Without wider channels for legal immigration (including broader and higher visa quotas than the absurdly restrictive current ones, & a humane guest worker program) as well as enforcement against white-collar immigration crime (those business people who profit exploiting unauthorized workers), this problem won’t even begin to be solved.

    The Obama administration though, has been slow to tackle white collar immigration crime and continues arresting low level immigration offenders. This is something I reported on recently:


    and on T/S:


    • collapse expand

      I don’t understand why it is that you think our immigration quotas are absurdly restrictive. Can you explain your statement?
      No nation in Europe has anything near our levels of immigration. The UK and Germany are about 2.0 immigrants/1000. France is about 1.5 immigrants/1000. The offical US rate is 4.3 immigrants/1000. When you include illegal immigrants the US rate is nearly 7.0 immigrants/1000.
      The UN recognizes the right to emigrate, however, it does not recognize an obligation on the part of any nation to accept immigrants.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  8. collapse expand

    Lou Dobbs has a huge following of around 80% of Americas’ citizens who happen to be moderate conservatives. Dobbs and the rest of us resent the attitudes of most of the ungrateful communist, socialist, leftist parasites that snuck into our country while we were paying attention to the Islamic threat. Our goal is to stop all immigration for 10 years while we rid our country of all foreigners who didn’t ask permission to be here. Take your drama home to the place of your birth.

  9. collapse expand

    First, thanks Marcelo and Eilene, for your civil responses. I’m constantly embarassed and the cause is constantly undermined by responses such as americanmike’s. It makes it hard to discuss this issue rationally.

    1) Yes, fines/jail time for illegal employers is absolutely the way to go. Militarizing the border makes Republicans feel good, but it’s like trying to fight a guerilla war with fixed fortifications, if I may belabor their paradigm.
    But guess what? Obama is quietly going about busting illegal employers. He should be supported for this. Read Froma Harrop. She’s onto it.
    2) I do not support a pathway to legalization. We did this once before and made 4 million instant new citizens and swore we’d never do it again. Now we’re talking 12-20 million instant citizens. So let’s not do it again.
    3) It isn’t just illegal immigrants, it’s the total number of immigrants that are bidding down wages. So your reasoning about removing the shadow economy is incorrect. Read Harvard’s George (formerly Jorge) Borjas, himself an immigrant. He has determined that overall immigration depresses wages an average of 7% on the low end and 3% on the high end. First bring an end to illegal immigration, then reduce legal immigration from 1.0 million a year to perhaps 200,000 per year. Concurrently enforce labor laws and watch wages rise.
    4) Turning low-consuming peoples into USAmericans has tremendous impacts on the global environment. We consume 5 times the world average, 5 times what Mexicans consume, 10 times what Indians consume. This translates into decimation of wildlands across the globe but especially in the Amazon, Indonesia, Africa so that we can have our beef, our palm oil, our rubber, our patio furniture . . .
    5) Our part in the global environment equation is to quickly create a sustainable economy–to live within our economic, ecological and political boundaries. Adding 33 million people a year, about 2/3 directly and indirectly attributable to immigration, makes it nearly impossible to do so. We currently utilize at least twice our land area to sustain our gluttonous lifestyle. The Brazilians, Sumatrans and Africans left behind suffer increased environmental depredations when their countrymen become USAmericans.
    6) I ride a bike instead of driving a car about 4,000 miles a year. I’m a near-vegan. Our electricity bill is about $13/person in our home. I hope to do even better. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t care. And immigrants don’t come here to try to live at the standard of living that they fled.
    7) No one has a right to be a USAmerican. Not the kind of destructive, thoughtless Americans that we are.

  10. collapse expand

    Patriots, read the latest report by Leo Donofrio.

    He has very credible evidence (and is preparing legal action) that the State of Hawaii violated their own laws and are complicit in the cover-up of Obama’s vital records. Hawaii actually has very liberal FOIA (freedom of information act) policies with very few restrictions. The full details can be viewed at the following web-page.



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    About Me

    Readers, thanks for your eyeball time, please send tips, corrections, complaints, rants, etc. My email is ballve [at] gmail.com. I was born in Buenos Aires and raised there and in Atlanta, Mexico City and Caracas. I've written and reported on Latin America for almost a dozen years. I started out as an Associated Press reporter and editor in the agency’s Brazil and Caribbean bureaus. In 2007 I co-founded El Sol de San Telmo, a community newspaper in Buenos Aires. I am now a contributing editor for the nonprofit New America Media, Americas correspondent for Amsterdam-based Research World magazine (publication of the international association of market and public opinion researchers), and a 2010-2011 Lemann Fellow at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

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    • For longer pieces, and a portfolio of published work please see my web page.


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      Since 2002 I have been a contributing editor at New America Media, where I write about Latin America and the politics of immigration in the United States.

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      Wax Poetics issue #36, with my essay on Brazilian singer-songwriter Jards Macalé.

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