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  • Alert Lou Dobbs!

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Obama's Kenyan birth certificate has been found. Well, according to this WorldNetDaily dispatch it has. (Insert punch line here.)

    Question: Will Dobbs bite?

    UPDATED: Below the Beltway details some of the red-flag flaws in the alleged certificate, while Little Green Footballs mocks the doc as "obviously fake."

  • Balt. Sun's Zurawik: Dobbs "real problem for CNN," Klein risking channel's credibility

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From an August 2 post, headlined "Lou Dobbs becomes a real problem for CNN," by Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik:

    Dobbs has consistently been lending credence to the "birthers" movement, which claims President Barack Obama is not a U. S. citizen, and thus, not eligible to be president because he was not allegedly born in the United States. The view has been widely and thoroughly discounted -- most notably by Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate. But despite such facts, Dobbs has persisted.

    The Media Matters ads on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will take Dobbs to task for his on-air actions in relation to that issue. It is a clever and sound strategy in the world of corporate TV.

    CNN can't really afford to ditch any ads that don't violate standards and practices. And if they refuse this one, which can still be seen on their competitors, they have a credibility problem.

    Credibility is the real issue here, and loss of it is the great danger for CNN.

    While CNN generally has lower prime-time ratings than its angry, opinionated competitors on the right and the left, it does have credibility and a kind of journalistic highground by "playing it down the middle." And that pays off on big news events when viewers want verified facts and information provided without partisan spin. The ratings during the election -- and even on events like Michael Jackson's death -- are consistently big for CNN.

    But Dobbs' behavior is threatening that very trust on which that success is based. Worse, Jon Klein, the president of CNN/US, now seems to be backing Dobbs after initially sending out what I read as warning signals that he wanted a more responsbile approach to any "birther" stories.

    If Klein continues to back Doobs, he risks losing that credibility -- and in this case, credibility is at the very heart of the CNN brand.

    Previously:

    AP reports Lou Dobbs has "become a publicity nightmare for CNN"

  • Does CNN's Jonathan Klein watch Lou Dobbs' show?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    He must not, based on his description of it:

    Klein said Dobbs does a smart newscast that explores issues that get little in-depth attention elsewhere, such as trade with China, health care funding and the stimulus plan. He suggested Dobbs' CNN work is unfairly lumped in with his unrelated radio show, and that he's judged on the show he did a couple of years ago, when Dobbs became a political target for his campaigning against illegal immigration.

    The two men sat down after last year's election to make changes, aware that the anti-immigrant Dobbs' image ran counter to the brand CNN was trying to create.

    CNN calls itself the network of unbiased reporting compared to conservative commentators on Fox and liberal ones at MSNBC.

    Since then, Dobbs has been doing a relatively straight newscast, Klein said.

    "Smart newscast"? Really? Set aside for a moment the absurdity of calling a newscast that spreads the false claim that Barack Obama has not proven his citizenship "smart." Is getting the cost of bailouts wrong a sign of a "smart newscast"? How about blatently misrepresenting Robert Gibbs comments?

    Does Jonathan Klein really think the stimulus plan has gotten "little in-depth attention elsewhere"? If so, why doesn't he instruct other CNN reporters to cover the topic the way Lou Dobbs does?

    Does Jonathan Klein really expect us to believe Dobbs' CNN show and his radio show are unrelated? Then why did he say just a few days ago that "Lou is listening to a certain segment of the population all day long on his radio show so naturally that's going to inform some of the decisions that he makes."? Why does Dobbs cross-promote the shows? And is Klein really unaware of the fact that Dobbs has been pushing the Birther nonsense not only on his radio show, but on CNN as well?

    And wouldn't it be interesting to see what facts Klein is relying on for his claim that since the election, Dobbs has been doing a "relatively straight newscast"? Has Klein reviewed a significant portion of those newscasts? Other observers haven't detected any such change. And Dobbs' immigration obsession certainly hasn't died down. Klein expects anyone to take seriously his claim that Dobbs has changed, he should probably produce some examples and evidence.

  • AP reports Lou Dobbs has "become a publicity nightmare for CNN"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From an August 1 Associated Press article headlined "Lou Dobbs challenges his own network":

    He's become a publicity nightmare for CNN, embarrassed his boss and hosted a show that seemed to contradict the network's "no bias" brand. And on top of all that, his ratings are slipping.

    How does Lou Dobbs keep his job?

    It's not a simple answer. CNN insists it is standing behind Dobbs, despite calls for his head from critics of his reporting on "birthers" - those who believe President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States despite convincing evidence to the contrary. The "birthers" believe Obama was born in Kenya, and thus not eligible to be president.

    Dobbs' work has been so unpopular that even Ann Coulter has criticized him.

    [...]

    "He's embarrassed himself and he's embarrassed CNN," said Brooks Jackson, a former CNN correspondent. "And that's not a good thing for any network that wants to be seen as a reputable, nonpartisan news organization."

    So who needs the headache?

    Klein said Dobbs does a smart newscast that explores issues that get little in-depth attention elsewhere, such as trade with China, health care funding and the stimulus plan. He suggested Dobbs' CNN work is unfairly lumped in with his unrelated radio show, and that he's judged on the show he did a couple of years ago, when Dobbs became a political target for his campaigning against illegal immigration.

    The two men sat down after last year's election to make changes, aware that the anti-immigrant Dobbs' image ran counter to the brand CNN was trying to create. CNN calls itself the network of unbiased reporting compared to conservative commentators on Fox and liberal ones at MSNBC.

    Since then, Dobbs has been doing a relatively straight newscast, Klein said.

    Previously:

    Facts get in the way of Klein's claim that Dobbs radio show is separate and apart" from CNN

    CNN exec concedes Dobbs is "opinionate" -- but that's the least of his journalistic faults

  • McClatchy cites Dobbs, Limbaugh, Hannity as providing "a stage on talk radio and cable TV" to birthers

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From an August 2 article by McClatchy Newspapers' Steven Thomma:

    The allegation that President Barack Obama was born in another country is more than just another political smear.

    It's the story of how a small but intense movement called "birthers" rose from a handful of people prone to seeing conspiracies aided by the Internet - and magnified without evidence by eager radio and cable TV hosts, and eventually ratified by a small group of Republican politicians working to keep the story alive.

    It's a story about what experts call political paranoia over a new face in a time of anxiety and rapid change. It's the sort of viral message that can take hold among a sliver of the populace that's ready to believe that their new president is a fraud, and ready to angrily dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as part of the conspiracy.

    [...]

    Once the story spread on the Internet, several of the birthers have found a stage on talk radio and cable TV. Lou Dobbs of CNN, for example, has said he thinks the allegations are false, yet he continues airing them.

    Radio host Rush Limbaugh has joked about it, saying, "Barack Obama has one thing in common with God. You know what it is? God doesn't have a birth certificate either."

    Sean Hannity has featured Andy Martin on his Fox News program, and radio host Liddy has repeatedly featured stories charging that the president was born in Kenya.

  • Frank Rich slams "birther enabler" Dobbs for playing on "escalating white fear"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Frank Rich's August 1 New York Times column, Small Beer, Big Hangover:

    One of the loudest birther enablers is not at Fox but CNN: Lou Dobbs, who was heretofore best known for trying to link immigrants, especially Hispanics, to civic havoc. Dobbs is one-stop shopping for the excesses of this seismic period of racial transition. And he is following a traditional, if toxic, American playbook. The escalating white fear of newly empowered ethnic groups and blacks is a naked replay of more than a century ago, when large waves of immigration and the northern migration of emancipated blacks, coupled with a tumultuous modernization of the American work force, unleashed a similar storm of racial and nativist panic.

    Rich also slams Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for labeling Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist and Glenn Beck for labeling Obama a racist:

    Ground zero for this hysteria is Fox News, where Brit Hume last Sunday lamented how insulting it is "to be labeled a racist" in "contemporary" America. "That fact has placed into the hands of certain people a weapon," he said, as he condemned Gates for hurling that weapon at a police officer. Gates may well have been unjust -- we don't know that Crowley is a racist - but the professor was provoked by being confronted like a suspect in the privacy of his own home.

    What about those far more famous leaders in Hume's own camp who insistently cry "racist" -- and in public forums -- without any credible justification whatsoever? These are the "certain people" Hume conspicuously didn't mention. They include Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, both of whom labeled Sonia Sotomayor a racist. Their ranks were joined last week by Glenn Beck, who on Fox News inexplicably labeled Obama a racist with "a deep-seated hatred for white people," presumably including his own mother.

  • Malkin: "Obama's cronies of color," including wife, "reach for the race card when their dubious judgment is questioned"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Pages 12-13 of conservative columnist Michelle Malkin's new book, Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies (Regnery Publishing, July 2009):

    Fortunately, not everyone on the Left remains paralyzed in an irreversible state of Obama inebriation. This book would not have been possible without the contributions of some brave and lonely liberals -- whistleblowers at the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), independent journalists and government watchdogs -- who rejected the excuse-making and white-washing of Obama's culture of corruption. While Obama sycophants in the mainstream media celebrated his "hipness"23 and his "swagga,"24 a few principled progressives finally began to question the cult.

    But they are still in the minority. And there will be more predictable excuses. As I document in this book, Obama's cronies of color (beginning with his own wife) reach for the race card when their dubious judgment is questioned. And when all else fails, there's always the "I inherited the problem" alibi.

    To which I reply: Read the book. Barack Obama owns this cabinet of tax cheats, crooks, and cronies. It is his and his alone. In the era of "new politics," judge him as you would judge other mere mortals. Judge him not by the company that preceded him.

    Judge him by the company he keeps.

  • Time TV critic Poniewozik suggests Dobbs "supping from the delicious chum bucket of hysteria" with birtherism

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From James Poniewozik's Time article Threats with Teeth:

    To live every week like it's Shark Week, then, might be a metaphor for living in our media environment: to spend every week titillated by unlikely threats, getting whipped into frenzies, yawning over high-minded stuff like health-care policy and supping from the delicious chum bucket of hysteria. The President is a secret Kenyan who faked his birth certificate! Terrorists are coming to get you! And the world is going to end, six different ways! But first a word from our sponsor.

    Coincidentally, one of the best recent critiques of how media overkill works is airing during Shark Week. Summer is high season for media freak-outs. This year, we've had celebrity deaths, political sex scandals and a conspiracy theory that President Obama was born outside the U.S., revived by the likes of CNN's Lou Dobbs. Sharkbite Summer (Aug. 4) looks back eight years to when a few high-profile shark attacks sent the media into their own feeding frenzy. The summer of 2001, postrecount and pre-9/11, was notoriously slow on news. (Hence, it was also the season of the Chandra Levy media circus.) So when an 8-year-old boy was mauled by a bull shark in Florida, a hungry press attacked.

  • Politico, please define "feuds"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    What, another concocted Politico headline that doesn't match the facts of the story (but lands a Drudge linked)? We're shocked.

    From Politico:

    Franken feuds with T. Boone Pickens

    Obviously, "feuds" implies an on-going and bitter confrontation. Instead, what happened, according to the article, was:

    Franken, who was seated talking to someone else, did not stand when Pickens said hello. Instead, Franken began to berate him about the billionaire's financing of the Swift Boat ads in 2004. According to a source, the confrontation grew heated.

    Basically, a conversation took place, and Politico hyped it as a feud.

  • Wash. Post debunks "euthanasia" fearmongering

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Ceci Connolly's August 1 Washington Post article, Talk Radio Campaign Frightening Seniors:

    A campaign on conservative talk radio, fueled by President Obama's calls to control exorbitant medical bills, has sparked fear among senior citizens that the health-care bill moving through Congress will lead to end-of-life "rationing" and even "euthanasia."

    The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary.

    But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as "guiding you in how to die," "an ORDER from the Government to end your life," promoting "death care" and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to "kill Granny."

    […]

    The attacks on talk radio began when Betsy McCaughey, who helped defeat President Bill Clinton's health-care overhaul 16 years ago, told former senator Fred D. Thompson (R-Tenn.) that mandatory counseling sessions with Medicare beneficiaries would "tell them how to end their life sooner" and would teach the elderly how to "decline nutrition . . . and cut your life short."

    Previously:

    Wash. Post latest to promote end-of-life counseling myth

    Media echo serial misinformer McCaughey's false end-of-life counseling claim

    Caught with "pants on fire," McCaughey backtracks, hedges -- again

    Beck's "idea" same as Rush's: Proposes "Cash for Cripples"

    Limbaugh ratchets up health reform fearmongering: "They're going to get rid of your old clunker grandparents"

    Fox & Friends continues fearmongering, Malkin claims health care reform "puts a discount on the lives of elderly people"