For years, Lou Dobbs has been one of the most dangerous hosts on cable news. He benefits enormously from the legitimacy of the CNN brand, which provides him with an unparalleled platform from which to mainstream the hate speech and racially charged conspiracy theories normally relegated to Fox News and other conservative news outlets. Dobbs calls himself an "advocacy journalist," but he doesn't even live up to that ambiguous standard. Good journalism enhances the discussion of serious topics, but Dobbs helps to undermine and debase that discussion, routinely infusing it with misinformation and fear. And when it comes to issues like immigration, he has more in common with birther Orly Taitz than with Anderson Cooper.
If CNN won't drop Dobbs, it's time that his advertisers did. It's time to do more than simply highlight the damage Dobbs does and the threat he poses. We must demand accountability from the advertisers who, by their purchase of airtime on his shows, actively support his hate speech.
Today, 11 organizations, including America's Voice, National Council of La Raza, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and many others, joined together to launch the Drop Dobbs campaign and DropDobbs.com. The effort aims to let companies know that their continued financial support of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight makes them complicit in the hate speech and wild conspiracy theories that he promotes.
The hugely successful Glenn Beck advertiser boycott currently under way shows how effective this kind of coordinated pressure can be. In just a matter of weeks, 62 companies have dropped Beck, costing the program 50 percent of its ad dollars. Companies simply don't want to be associated with Beck's on-air hate speech. They should feel the same way about Dobbs.
Watch the video and join the effort:
Dobbs has a long history of spreading hate and paranoia. He has routinely discussed the North American Union conspiracy theory, incorrectly claimed that undocumented immigrants drain social services and don't pay taxes, and repeatedly amplified the falsehood that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately violent. He has been an unrepentant purveyor of hateful attacks, fraudulently claiming, for example, that immigrants are spreading leprosy and seek to reconquer the southwestern United States. And this past summer, he encouraged racially charged paranoia by legitimizing the (thoroughly debunked) birther conspiracy theory concerning the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate.
Just today, and for the second year in a row, Dobbs was a leading voice at an annual conference of radio personalities hosted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR was founded by a white supremacist, John Tanton, and has been labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FAIR certainly understands the value of Dobbs' presence at the event. In fact, it is promoting his participation as evidence of the gathering's supposed credibility.
Because of his shockingly long record of extremism and factually inaccurate reporting -- reporting that often directly contradicts the work of other journalists on CNN itself -- the network's reputation has already been dealt a severe blow. The AP even declared Dobbs to be a "publicity nightmare" for CNN. And yet, rather than dropping him, CNN continually makes excuses for its prized anchor. The network is even willing to ignore a recent decision by CNN president Jon Klein that talk-radio hosts will no longer be allowed on the network. In spite of this, Dobbs is permitted to host a vitriolic radio show that he promotes on his CNN program.
Together, we can close this glaring Lou Dobbs loophole. Visit DropDobbs.com and help us bring accountability to "the most trusted name" in hate speech.
I just want to re-iterate the point ColorofChange.org made yesterday in its press release regarding the amount of money Glenn Beck is losing in the wake of the sweeping boycott. A Television program simply cannot lose 60 advertisers in the course of a few weeks and not have its bottom line affected. That's just not possible in today's television industry. So please, let's discard the Fox News spin.
As noted a couple weeks ago [emphasis added]:
If the boycott continues to gain momentum, Fox News won't be able to avoid writing down losses. Yes, the cabler claims it hasn't lost any money yet because nervous advertisers simply want off Glenn Beck, not off Fox News (i.e. advertisers are still spending money with the network). But the truth is, since Beck called Obama a racist, Beck's advertising base has been cut by 50 willing advertisers, and Fox News' need to find advertisers for the hour-long weekday show has not changed. And I'm guessing it's not having much luck drumming up new Glenn Beck business in this environment.
Honestly, if advertisers continue to abandon Glenn Beck, pretty soon the show's going to be forced to run more than the occasional free public-service announcement. Either that, or the advertisers willing to stick around are going to get some great deals or maybe even some free spots in order to make sure Fox News can fill the inventory.
It's the old supply and demand: Fox News has the same size supply--the same size ad inventory--for Glenn Beck that it did one month ago. But suddenly it's got 60 fewer adertisers willing to pay for the show. And unless Fox News has been able to keep secret all the new advertisers it's bringing in, guess what? Glenn Beck isn't generating the same revenue it was a month ago. It has lost revenue.
Here's the graph Gawker posted to showcase Glenn Beck's recent ad revenue losses:
Because you'll recall when Rep. Nancy Pelosi mentioned that some health care mini-mob members this summer were showing up with Swastikas and other Nazi symbols, both Breitbart and Goldberg instantly branded Pelosi a liar. There was no way right-wing activists would ever be spotted brandishing that kind of Hitler nonsense.
Indeed, conservatives journalists themselves spent an awful lot of time during the Bush years condemning any liberal activists who dared bring out the Bush-is-a-Nazi charge. (Very fringy and non-serious.) But now the tea party movement seems to be drowning in the unhinged Nazi stuff, pundits like Breitbart and Goldberg, instead of condemning the idiocy, chose instead to deny it.
That was in August. If any doubt remained about the right-wing's suddenly love of all-things Nazi, the tea party rally in Washington, D.C., this weekend, as well as corresponding ones around the country, probably put that 'debate' to rest.
Former Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler, writing in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas:
The [New York] Times actually published some stories, most notably a piece by Michael Gordon and Judith Miller on September 8, 2002, that wound up contributing to what turned out to be the administration's bogus case for war. The [Washington] Post was much less guilty of that particular sin, but it displayed a pattern of missing or downplaying events that unfolded in public-events that might have played a role in public opinion during the run-up to the war.
Some examples: In the summer and fall of 2002, the paper failed to record promptly the doubts of then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey. When Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, wrote a cautionary op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, it apparently didn't strike anyone at the Post as news. ...The testimony of three retired four-star generals warning against an attack before the Senate Armed Services Committee was not covered at all. Speeches by Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Robert Byrd that seem prescient today were not covered.
The list goes on. Large anti-war rallies in London and Rome went unreported the day after. In October, when more than 100,000 gathered in Washington to protest the war, the story went in the Metro section because the Post underestimated its size.
Then there was the Page A18 problem. The Post, to be sure, did put some good stories challenging the official line on the front page. But they consistently seemed to be outnumbered by important stories, usually sourced to anonymous government or military insiders, that were positioned way inside the newspaper.
Here's a brief sampling of additional Post headlines that, rather stunningly, failed to make the front of the newspaper: "Observers: Evidence for War Lacking," "U.N. Finds No Proof of Nuclear Program," "Bin Laden-Hussein Link Hazy," "U.S. Lacks Specifics on Banned Arms," "Legality of War Is a Matter of Debate," and "Bush Clings to Dubious Allegations About Iraq." In short, it wasn't the case that important, challenging reporting wasn't done. It just wasn't highlighted.
Apologies for the lengthy excerpt, but there's much, much more that is well worth reading.
Trust me, I don't want to keep writing about the hilarious right-wing attempts to inflate Saturday's crowd, and how bloggers pushing the fake facts appear to occupy a Bizarro-type parallel universe, but given what's going on online, I don't really have a choice.
I'll try to make this quick playing off Ben's post below which noted that right-wingers were excitedly quoting a National Parks spokesman claiming Saturday's rally was the biggest every. Wrong, the Parks Service quote in question came from Jan. and it was about Obama's inauguration.
Got it? Ok. Now, how did bloggers who first floated the phony Parks Service quote deal with the embarrassing revelation that they were quoting statistic for a Democratic event? If you're you do this:blog at American Thinker
[Note to readers: in my haste, I misread the Globe report forwarded to me as referring to the 9/12 deminstrations. I apologize. TL]
Here's the Globe headline [emphasis added]:
Inaugural crowd size reportedly D.C. record
WASHINGTON - The National Park Service says it will rely on a media report that says 1.8 million people attended President Obama's inauguration.
Simple question for Lifson: How could anybody with a fourth grade education or beyond read that ("Inaugural") headline and that ("inauguration") lede and not know the article was about....Obama's inauguration? It makes no sense that somehow a rushed blogger could be confused about the context. What does make a bit more sense though, is that some bloggers knew the Parks Service quote was bogus (i.e. it wasn't about 9/12 rally) and posted it anyway, and are only now playing dumb because they've been caught.
Yesterday on his radio program, while discussing the crowds at this weekend's 9/12 protests, Glenn Beck claimed that the LondonTelegraph "quote[d] a source from the Park Service, the National Park Service, saying that it is the largest march on Washington ever." This led to a good deal of confusion here, as the Telegraph article contains no such quote. Just another case of Beck making things up? Actually, the story behind this turns out to be much funnier than we could have anticipated.
Several conservative blogs have been quoting National Park Service spokesman "Dan Bana" as saying the 9/12 protest was "the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever." This appears to be a repurposing of this quote from David Barna (who, unlike Dan Bana, appears to be a real person):
David Barna, a Park Service spokesman, said the agency did not conduct its own count. Instead, it will use a Washington Post account that said 1.8 million people gathered on the US Capitol grounds, National Mall, and parade route.
"It is a record," Barna said. "We believe it is the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever."
Very impressive! Unfortunately, as Little Green Footballs pointed out, that quote was actually about the inauguration:
This is so pathetic I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Dozens - if not hundreds - of right wing blogs are running with this quote, portraying it as a statement about the tea party held last weekend: 'We believe it is the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever.'
The quote is from January. The National Park Service spokesman was talking about Barack Obama's inauguration.
Pam Geller quoted "Dan Bana" as saying this on Saturday. She cited Thomas Lifson at American "Thinker," who also calls him "Dan Bana." In keeping with his fellow conservatives, Lifson doesn't feel the need to provide a link for his outlandish crowd estimates:
Despite mainstream media attempts to characterize turnout as in the thousands, a spokesman for the National Park Service, Dan Bana, is quoted as saying "It is a record.... We believe it is the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever."
True, "Dan Bana" definitely "is quoted" as saying this. By whom? Well, Thomas Lifson.
From Pam Geller:
Here's the video over at CSPAN of millions on the mall. Incredible. Look at the pan of the crowd shot. The left fascists are debating the number to take the focus off what happened in Washington, D.C., this weekend. I'll go with the Parks department estimates, thankyouverymuch.
A 9-12 participant in DC claims to have overheard DC police discussing the crowd numbers. They put the numbers at over 2 million -- and those were only the people who could make it into the city. The local authorities as well as many participants claim that many many more could not even get into the city to the core of the protest.
Yes, she cited someone who "claims to have overheard DC police discussing the crowd numbers." Your conservative blogosphere, ladies and gentleman.
What's funnier than watching right-wingers try to convince each other that 500,000 ... No, a million ... No, two million ... Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket, two million people showed up for their anti-Obama protest over the weekend?
Watching right-wingers who realize that nobody will believe those sad little lies try to pretend that the inflated claims were merely made on a few obscure blogs.
Here's Newsbusters' Jeff Poor dismissing the inflated claims as the work of a few obscure bloggers:
And MSNBC's resident left-wing curmudgeon-in-training David Shuster didn't disappoint. The former host of the canceled "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" took a report from the Huffington Post debunking attendance figures and attempted to belittle the event. The story focused on an old photograph that had been circulating on some minor conservative blogs showing a huge crowd for the Sept. 12 march.
But the inflated crowd claims weren't limited to "some minor conservative blogs," as Poor would have you believe. Indeed, protest organizer Matt Kibbe claimed from the rally stage that ABC News had reported between 1 and 1.5 million people were at the rally. (ABC had reported nothing of the kind, because nothing of the kind was even remotely close to true.)
But here's what's really hilarious: Poor's Newsbusters' colleague Tom Blumer claimed on Sunday that the rally "drew an estimated 1-2 million people." (Blumer hasn't corrected his post.) Blumer didn't use the phony photos to support his claim; but he did accept and promote the wildly inflated crowd numbers they purportedly demonstrated.
Newsbusters' Tom Bumer, 9/13: "the D.C. rally yesterday that drew an estimated 1-2 million people."
Newsbusters' Jeff Poor, 9/15: "The [Huffington Post] story focused on an old photograph that had been circulating on some minor conservative blogs showing a huge crowd for the Sept. 12 march."
The media was not only obsessing over the sideshow, forgoing yet another opportunity to actually inform the public about health care and the efforts to reform the insurance system. Even worse, they were all but ignoring the substance behind Wilson's claim, taking a pass on the question of whether Wilson was correct or not. (He wasn't.)
The media was not only allowing Wilson's outburst to divert the entire health care debate to a discussion of the relatively small matter of how, if at all, health care reform would treat people who are in the country illegally, they were repeating his false claim over and over without indicating its falsity.
That behavior has continued. And, incredibly, reporters actually praise news reports that fail to examine the question of whether Wilson was telling the truth. Take this Washington Post news report today: 1,300 words, not one of them indicating whether Wilson was right or wrong. 1,300 words, and it omits a central -- perhaps the central -- fact of the controversy: Wilson was wrong. And Politco's Jonathan Martin praises it as a "good story."
This will not end well.
Boy, it's like the Newsbusters crew is trying to set some sort of record for inane media criticism in a single day. Earlier, Tim Graham said the Washington Post's obituary of Patrick Swayze proved the paper's liberal bias by not mentioning Red Dawn until the 23rd paragraph.
Now Mark Finkelstein attacks MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan for conducting a "fawning" interview of Barney Frank, with Finkelstein throwing around the words "sycophant" and "suck-up" and "appeasing" to describe Ratigan's behavior.
Here's the problem: the interview in question included a testy exchange in which Ratigan repeatedly interrupted Frank as he tried to answer a question.
It's awfully strange to see an interview in which the interviewee feels the need to insist "I'm trying to answer it ... I'm trying to answer it ... these things are somewhat complicated. And they can't all be answered in eight seconds. ... So I wish you would let me answer the question" described as "fawning," but that's what passes as media criticism on the Right.
The paper devotes an entire article to the question of how many people showed up for the anti-Obama rally on Saturday, and the newspaper (surprise!) politely ignores the details surrounding the now-infamous 2 million protester lie, helped spread by Michelle Malkin. If you're going to write a news story about the weekend crowds, that's the story. But still, the Times plays dumb. It's just the latest example of how the mainstream political press fails to hold the GOP Noise Machine accountable. How right-wing pundits like Malkin can lie with immunity.
BTW, the Times piece is just a weak piece of lazy journalism.
Headline with subhead:
Crowd estimates vary wildly for Capitol march: How many angry conservatives showed up to protest Obama's policies? Was it 2 million? Or 60,000? It all depends on whom you ask.
See how the bogus "2 million" mark was right there in the headline? It's then planted in the lede:
But even before the march was over, the news media, bloggers and rally supporters were wrangling over the crowd count, with estimates ranging from 60,000 to 2 million.
Where, specifically, did the (fictitious) 2 million figure come from? The Times never bothers to report that detail. The Times article is completely silent regarding the fact that Malkin pushed that concocted figure and did it by referring to a non-existent ABC News report. The Times is also silent regarding the fact that right-wing bloggers spent all of Saturday spreading the blatantly untrue 2 million figure, despite the fact ABC News was on the record denying it ever reported the crowd was that big.
In other words, the Times writes a story about Saturday's crowd estimates and completely misses the story, which was how the right-wing noise machine was, once again, busy spreading blatant lies and comical misinformation. But newspaper like the Times don't like to tell those kinds of tales. Because what would those nasty conservative bloggers would write in response?!
UPDATED: The Times concluded the actual crowd size was probably very low six figures:
Although no official crowd estimates were issued, local officials and an expert indicated the number was more likely under 100,000, still a sizable turnout.
The newspaper though, remains silent (it makes no judgment) regarding the fact that the bloggers' estimate, which the Times used in its headline and lede, was off by 1.9 million people.