Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 25, 2009

Rodriguez: 'Face of the New American Bigot, Part II'

Face of the New American Bigot, Part II

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

In writing about CNN’s Lou Dobbs and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio recently – readers rightly asked about why CNN continues to carry an obsessed bigot in its daily lineup?
The question is the same for other media outlets that have for years carried Dobbs and others whose careers seemed to be based on an obsession with immigration (illegal or otherwise), the border and the Spanish language.
Unquestionably, it is an unhealthy obsession, one in which during difficult times leads to un upsurge in hate crimes, discrimination, harassment and scapegoating. In this case, the scapegoats are Mexicans primarily, but also Central and South Americans. Many of those
targeted are in fact either legally here or U.S. born citizens.
This is not news to CNN. Virtually every media outlet, every media watch dog group and every human rights organization has noted Dobbs’s obsession.
The Southern Poverty Law Center – the premier human rights organization that monitors hate nationally, regularly features Dobbs ( It regularly questions his incendiary work, his accuracy, and his penchant for relying on white supremacist sources. They have also written to CNN’s top management about this. (Incidentally, the SPLC has been reporting a major increase in hate crimes against Latinos every year since 2000).
The media watchdog, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) – which is dedicated to challenging media bias and censorship – regularly Dobb’s daily obsession, always noting his brazen xenophobia, his habitual misreporting and his reliance on an all-star cast of
extremist sources (
Recently, another media watchdog, Media Matters for America(, featured and documented more of Dobbs’s fabrications. On Jan. 29, Dobbs falsely claimed that “illegal aliens” would be able to take advantage of the massive economic stimulus bill; the bill specifically precludes this
from happening. On Feb 4, Dobbs’s nightly report asserted the same about the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), signed that day by President Obama. The banner during his newscast read: “Healthcare for Illegal Aliens.” CNN correspondent Lisa Sylvester
reported that the SCHIP would make it likely that “illegal aliens” would be able to access the program. But as FAIR noted: “The SCHIP bill also explicitly states in Section 605 that ‘[n]othing in this Act allows Federal payment for individuals who are not lawfully residing
in the United States’:”
CNN’s president Jonathan Klein has long been aware of Dobbs’s obsession and his habitual misstatements and misreporting, telling the New York Times (3/29/06), "Lou's show is not a harbinger of things to come at CNN,” adding that he is “one of a kind." Yet, CNN – “the most
trusted name in news” – has continued to carry Dobbs and has made available its vast financial resources, including the use of its “trusted” regular reporters to help push his xenophobic agenda.
One has to wonder whether CNN would tolerate a show on crime and welfare by Dobbs that daily featured black welfare queens and black street hoodlums? Dobbs’s defense would be that he is not concerned with race, but rather, cheats and criminals. Would CNN carry a show by
Dobbs that daily railed against Jews for cheating and embezzling Americans out of their hard-earned dollars? The claim would be that the concern is with illegality, regardless of who was doing the cheating and embezzling. What about a daily show dedicated to the extermination of American Indians… or that daily denigrated women or the LBGT community? (Witness what just one racial episode – the chimpanzee/Obama cartoon – at the New York Daily Post (2/19/09) – has rightfully generated.
If Dobb’s obsession is transparent, why then indeed do CNN and other media outlets carry his show? Why does the media in general do the same with other documented hate-mongers?
The answer is two-fold. “Illegal aliens” are not considered full human beings. Officially, there are no [racially identified] faces associated with them, though in reality, we know that thanks to the
bigots in our midst, illegal alien is code for brown, which generally equals Mexicans. Similar to the debate over the official language in this country, it is a coded debate about the racial and cultural future of this nation.
Secondly, with its competition with the “fair & balanced” FOX Network, one can only ascertain that CNN’s decision to continue to carry Dobbs, tells us volumes about its ethics and responsibilities. They apparently mean little in the face of profits. Yet with the 2008
elections now over, perhaps it can soon regain the trust it has otherwise earned.
Rodriguez can be reached at
* CNN can be reached at (404) 827-1500 or on the web at:

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