CNN's Lou Dobbs problem and the immigration debate

Media Matters:

In light of Lou Dobbs' reported plans to help lead the upcoming lobbying campaign of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) -- an organization designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- Media Matters for America reviews some of the most egregious conspiracy theories, hate speech, and undisclosed conflicts of interest in Dobbs' immigration reporting.

Dobbs fails to disclose ties to "hate group" FAIR while citing it as credible immigration source

Dobbs has close ties to "hate group" FAIR. In August, FAIR -- an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a "hate group" -- announced that Dobbs is scheduled to help lead its annual "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" radio host rally. A year earlier, Dobbs broadcast his CNN show from the FAIR rally and announced on the air that "the Federation for American Immigration Reform is to be commended." In addition, the group has given Dobbs an award for "his continued efforts in leading the immigration reform movement through both his talk radio show and his television show." In the past year, Dobbs has cited FAIR as a credible source on immigration issues at least six times and has routinely failed to disclose his close association with the group.

FAIR boasted Dobbs' "prominence" would add to "the visibility and stature" of its 2008 anti-immigration rally. In its press release announcing Dobbs' 2008 participation in its rally, FAIR wrote that Dobbs' "prominence will add to the visibility and stature of an event that has already had an enormous impact on the national debate about immigration policy. ... With the participation of the Lou Dobbs Tonight program to Hold Their Feet to the Fire 2008, that message is certain to reach the widest possible audience."

Dobbs' show cites FAIR in news reports without disclosing Dobbs' ties. Between September 10, 2008 -- when Dobbs broadcast his CNN show from FAIR's rally -- and FAIR's August announcement that Dobbs would help lead the 2009 rally, Dobbs' CNN show has cited FAIR as a credible source on immigration at least six times and has regularly failed to disclose Dobbs' ties to group. For example, on the June 11, 2009 Lou Dobbs Tonight, correspondent Casey Wian reported: "By Schwarzenegger's estimate, California spends $4 billion a year on social services for illegal immigrants or about 17 percent of the state's deficit. But in 2004 the Federation for American Immigration reform, a group that promotes stronger border security and greater restrictions on immigration estimated that cost at $9 billion a year." On Dobbs' January 30, 2009, CNN show, Wian reported: "The Pro-Enforcement Federation for American Immigration Reform issued a statement saying the Obama administration appears to be caving in to business and ethnic interest pressure groups to delay or perhaps eliminate this vital protection for U.S. workers."

FAIR founder Tanton has a history of racist statements. FAIR was founded by John Tanton, who still sits on the organization's board of directors. In 1986, Tanton reportedly wrote: "As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night?" In 1993, he reportedly wrote, "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that." In 1997, Tanton was quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying that without a reduction in immigration levels, the United States will be overwhelmed by people "defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs."

FAIR has a history of racially charged ads. FAIR also has a history of backing racially charged advertisements. For example, on April 24, 2004, The Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star editorialized that ads backed by FAIR at the time were "trash" that "incite hate," "play upon stereotypical racial fears," and "are full of half-truths and lies.'"

Read the entire report at Media Matters.

article originally published at Media Matters.

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