CNN host Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that "there have been more advocates of open borders and illegal immigration" on Lou Dobbs Tonight "than there have been opponents." In fact, a Media Matters review of the first three months of 2006 found that among guests who held positions on immigration reform, Lou Dobbs Tonight featured 26 appearances by guests who largely agreed with Dobbs's positions on immigration reform, compared with only 16 guests whom he might describe as "advocates of open borders and illegal immigration."
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On the April 2 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, CNN host Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that "there have been more advocates of open borders and illegal immigration" on Lou Dobbs Tonight "than there have been opponents." Dobbs was responding to Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, who asked Dobbs whether viewers of Dobbs's CNN program can expect to "get all sides" of issues such as illegal immigration, a topic Dobbs has regularly covered. In fact, a Media Matters for America review of the first three months of 2006 found that among guests who held positions on immigration reform, Lou Dobbs Tonight featured 26 appearances by guests who largely agreed with Dobbs's positions on immigration reform, compared with only 16 guests whom he might describe as "advocates of open borders and illegal immigration."
A March 29 New York Times article described Dobbs as being a "central figure in the increasingly fractious debate over future immigration policy" who "insistently offer[s] his ever more passionate views on immigration all across the television landscape." Not surprisingly, Lou Dobbs Tonight has also heavily focused on the issue of immigration in recent months; from January through March virtually every episode included at least one segment or report dealing with the topic, and often multiple reports throughout the program's hour-long episodes.
Dobbs favors strict border control and harsh penalties for those who violate immigration laws; as Media Matters has previously noted, he declared in 2003 that "illegal aliens [...] not only threaten our economy and security, but also our health and well-being." Dobbs has called a bill recently passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee -- which would provide for a guest worker program with a path to citizenship -- an "unconscionable act," a "sham" and "obfuscation." He has also frequently expressed his opposition to guest worker programs -- which he decries as being "amnesty" plans. For example, on the March 28 edition of CNN's American Morning, he said: "[A] guest worker program has not worked anywhere in the world. It won't work here." Dobbs generally supports legislation passed by the House on December 16, 2005, which, among other things, would make illegal immigrants felons, sets criminal penalties for those who provide aid to illegal immigrants and calls for significantly increased border patrols and surveillance. The House bill does not provide for a guest worker program or any path to citizenship, and Dobbs stated on American Morning that the bill "is the best attempt [at immigration reform available] and at least [is] moving toward enforcement of our borders and security at our borders."
Despite Dobbs's claim that his show features "more advocates of open borders and illegal immigration" than guests who generally agree with Dobb's positions on border security, guest worker programs, criminalizing illegal immigrants, and imposing significant penalties on businesses that employ them, the reverse has been true, at least in recent months. As illustrated by the chart below, a Media Matters review of guests who discussed illegal immigration issues found that from January 1 through March 31, Lou Dobbs Tonight featured 26 appearances by guests who generally shared Dobbs's position on illegal immigration, and only 16 guests who held opposing views. During the same time period, neutral guests made eight appearances on the show, either discussing immigration reform broadly without offering specific policy proposals, or partially agreeing and partially disagreeing with Dobbs on specific immigration proposals.
Agreed with Dobbs
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) (1/2/06)
Dan Kairis, co-founder of the Independence Party of Illinois (1/2/06)
Sheriff Jerry Speziale, Passaic County, New Jersey (1/3/06)
Joe Blalack, retired Texas attorney (1/5/06)
Fred Elbel, director Defend Colorado Now (1/10/06)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) (1/11/06)
Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) (1/17/06)
Bay Buchanan, president of The American Cause (1/18/06)
Ana Avendano, associate general counsel AFL-CIO (1/24/06)
Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO) (1/25/06)
Rev. Jesse Jackson (1/30/06)
Dick Lamm, former Colorado governor (2/9/06)
Arizona state Rep. Russell K. Pearce (R) (2/10/06)
Arizona state Sen. Dean Martin (R) (2/14/06)
Sheriff John Trumbo, Umatilla County, Oregon (2/21/06)
Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) (2/27/06)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) (3/1/06, 3/28/06)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (3/7/06, 3/28/06)
Doug McIntyre, radio talk show host (3/21/06)
Mark Simone, radio talk show host (3/21/06)
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) (3/27/06)
Bob Pickett, radio talk show host (3/28/06)
Joe Madison, radio talk show host (3/28/06)
Richard Bey, radio talk show host (3/28/06)
Wade Buchanan, president of the Bell Policy Center (1/10/06)
William McManus, Minneapolis police chief (1/11/06)
Rev. Rick Ryscavage, Fairfield University (1/18/06)
Bishop Jaime Soto, Catholic Legal Immigration Network (1/23/06)
Richard Foltin, American Jewish Committee (1/23/06)
Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches (1/25/06)
Mayor David Kapell of Greenport, New York (2/9/06)
Arizona state Rep. Tom Prezelski (D) (2/10/06)
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) (3/8/06)
Juan Hernandez, former member of the Mexican cabinet (3/16/06)
Joe Klein, Time magazine columnist (3/17/06)
Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, founder of the Institute for Religion and Public Life (3/22/06)
Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza (3/27/06)
Hector Flores, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (3/29/06)
John Trasvina, Mexican American Legal Defense (3/29/06)
Carlos De Icaza, Mexican ambassador to United States (3/30/06)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) (1/2/06) (Spoke generally about illegal immigration problems, did not endorse any position on solutions.)
Brian Melendez, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (1/19/06) (Stated generally his opposition to illegal immigration but gave no other specific national policy proposals other than expressing the need for the federal government to do a better job enforcing already existing immigration law, stating, "Immigration is a federal issue.")
Ed Rollins, former Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administration official (2/20/06) (During a panel discussion, Rollins briefly mentioned the need for more border security, but he gave no indication specifically how he proposed to do so.) (3/17/06) (Broadly supported tightening border security, but remained neutral otherwise, stating, "I think both sides of it argued very well.")
John Fund, Wall Street Journal columnist (3/6/06) (Commented only that illegal immigration is a problem, but that Congress had to deal with it "constitutionally.")
Michael Goodwin, New York Daily News columnist (3/17/06) (Expressed concern with illegal immigrants' effect on wage suppression; only position otherwise was "if we're going have a system we have to enforce it.")
Randi Rhodes, radio talk show host (3/21/06) (Supported penalties on companies that hire illegal immigrants but did not appear to support as extreme border protection measures as did Dobbs.)
Sonia Nazario, author (3/21/06) (Did not address specific policies proposed in Congress; instead described the need to create better economic conditions in illegal immigrants' home countries to reduce incentive for immigrants to come to the United States illegally.)
From the April 2 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
KURTZ: And given your strong views, which you have enumerated and elaborated on here today, should CNN viewers believe they are going to get all sides of these issues on your program?
DOBBS: As a matter of fact, I think you will find that there have been far more advocates of open borders and illegal immigration on my broadcasts than there have been opponents. And my broadcast, as you put it, is not a typical CNN broadcast, certainly, nor is it a typical broadcast that you would find on any news network. We, at the outset, say this broadcast is about news, debate, and opinion. And we believe that enriches the content of what we are providing to our viewers, and obviously, they agree with us.