This week, CNN aired a new four-hour documentary called “Latino in America,” exploring how Latinos are reshaping American communities and culture. The broadcast sparked protests in cities around the country, including outside CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, with minority groups calling on the network to fire anti-immigration crusader and serial misinformer Lou Dobbs.
The New York Times reports that CNN “has not commented on the protests or covered them on its news programs.” But not only has CNN ignored the Dobbs protests, the network edited out criticism of Dobbs from civil rights lawyer Isabel Garcia during a taped interview with controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arapaio that aired on Anderson Cooper 360 this week:
[Garcia] who was featured in “Latino in America” and organized an anti-Dobbs protest in Tucson on Wednesday, said that CNN edited her comments about the anchor out of an interview. [...]
She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs “the two most dangerous men to our communities,” and said that “because of them, our communities are being terrorized in a real way.” She also asserted that CNN was “promoting lies and hate about our community” by broadcasting Mr. Dobbs’s program. The comments were not included when the interview was shown Wednesday night. “They heavily deleted what I did get to say,” she said.
This isn’t the first time CNN has circled the wagons around Dobbs. Earlier this year, Dobbs was one of the most prominent mainstream media figures pushing the conspiracy theory that President Obama may not have been born in the U.S. Dobbs repeatedly called on Obama to “produce a birth certificate” and said it’s “unfortunate” that the birthers have been “dismissed.” Despite Dobbs’ hysteria and playing on “escalating white fear,” CNN president Jonathan Klein downplayed Dobbs’ antics, claiming the CNN anchor was merely reporting on the birther “phenomenon” and had simply asked why “some people doubt” Obama’s citizenship.
Moreover, while discussing race issues last year on the air, Dobbs became agitated, and it appeared that he was about to say “cotton picking” (often used as a racially charged slur) in reference to then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. But he caught himself, only uttering the word “cotton.” In the official transcript of the show, CNN omitted “cotton” from Dobbs’ remarks.
While Dobbs has been quick to jump on right-wing conspiracy theories targeting Obama (including recently peddling a fake thesis purportedly written by Obama that trashes the Constitution, the Founding Fathers and free markets), his hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric has been ongoing for years. Now, Latino and pro-immigrant activists have launched two campaigns, Drop Dobbs and Basta Dobbs, which are aimed at pressuring CNN to “hold Mr. Dobbs to journalistic standards” or dump him altogether.
Matt Yglesias adds, “For all that, if CNN wants to stand by Dobbs then, fine, they should stand by Dobbs. But if they want to stand by Dobbs then they should stand by Dobbs and feature him prominently in their four-hour “Latino in America” documentary. After all, from what you can see watching the network day-to-day the executives at CNN think Dobbs has a credible and important perspective on this issue. Instead, they just kind of want to sweep the crazy uncle under the rug for the purposes of a big special, and then trot him back out again when everything’s back to normal.”