Dobbs pushes debunked Cars.gov claim to accuse admin. of being "authoritarian regime in waiting"

››› ››› ADAM SHAH

Claiming that the Obama administration is an "authoritarian regime in waiting," Lou Dobbs advanced the debunked claim that the computers of "consumers" who went to Cars.gov would have been taken over by the government and claimed that government statements to the contrary were false. In fact, PolitiFact.com and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have debunked the claim that would-be car consumers who go to the Cars.gov website would have their computers taken over by the government.

Dobbs claims that when "consumers" log onto Cars.gov, government would have taken over your computer

Dobbs: "If you'd logged onto Cars.gov," "Big Brother" would have taken over your computer.

DOBBS: But does Big Brother want to take your computers as well? Well, if you'd logged onto cars.gov, and some of my family, by the way, has -- the cash for clunkers website is cars.gov, by the way -- there's a privacy statement that says, "When logged onto the CARS system, your computer is considered a federal computer system, and it is property of the United States government. Any or all uses of this system and files of this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized Cars.dot and law enforcement personnel as well as authorized officials of other agencies both domestic and foreign."

[...]

And then to hear that authoritarian language that I just read to you from the Cars.gov. That language was on that website until, what was it, Monday? Monday or Tuesday. Then the White House was forced to change the language to something a little more legalese and a little less incendiary, I guess is the word. At least they think it's less intrusive or at least want us to think it is.

And the federal government said this only applied to dealers, not to the consumers. Just take over the dealers' computers, not just the people who are going on the other. Because that ain't what it said, folks. That isn't what it said at all, and we know what they meant. [United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/6/09]

Dobbs: "[T]he federal government said this only applied to dealers, not to the consumers. ... That isn't what it said at all." Later in the broadcast, Dobbs claimed: "[T]he federal government said this only applied to dealers, not to the consumers. Just take over the dealers' computers, not just the people who are going on the other. Because that ain't what it said, folks. That isn't what it said at all, and we know what they meant." [The Lou Dobbs Show, 8/6/09]

Claim that consumers' computers will be taken over has been debunked

PolitiFact: Claim that "anyone who logged into the cars.gov site was opening their computer to Big Brother" is "false." PolitiFact judged to be false a statement by Fox News' Kimberly Guilfoyle on Glenn Beck that if people log onto Cars.gov, the government will be "seizing all of your personal and private" information:

The Department of Transportation confirmed the language was on the cars.gov Web site, but on Aug. 3 it was removed. The DOT released this statement to PolitiFact: "A security warning on the CARS.gov dealer support page that stated computers logged into the system were considered property of the Federal Government has been removed. We are working to revise the language. The language was posted on the portion of the website accessible by car dealers and not the general public."

"It would be factually inaccurate to say that any computer that went to cars.gov would become the property of the U.S. government," said Sasha Johnson, a DOT spokeswoman said.

[...]

DOT's Johnson said the government has no plans to take over the computer of auto dealers either. And, again, the language was removed on Aug. 3.

But the language was there when Beck and Guilfoyle first raised their concerns. And clearly the language was overly broad, and bad enough to give ammunition to conspiracy theorists. That much is implied by the fact the government felt the need to remove the language. So in that sense, we think the DOT bears some blame for the confusion.

Had she said from the start that this just applied to dealers completing transactions, we might be more generous in our ruling. But we think anyone who saw the July 31 program -- in which she claimed "seriously, they can get all your information" -- would be left with the clear impression that anyone who logged into the cars.gov site was opening their computer to Big Brother. And that's False. [PolitiFact.com 7/31/09]

Electronic Frontier Foundation on language Dobbs quoted: "[T]his language was accessible only by registered dealers, and not the public." [EFF.org, 8/3/09]

Dobbs' "Big Brother," "authoritarian regime" smears echo his previous comments

Dobbs asserted that passing stimulus and energy bills without reading them is reminiscent of "Stalinist or Soviet-style government." Discussing representatives who passed the stimulus and Waxman-Markey bills without reading them, Dobbs said: "We just like to see that -- if there's anything happening in this country right now that doesn't more closely resemble that of a Stalinist or Soviet-style government." [The Lou Dobbs Show, 6/29/09]

Dobbs discussed "Pravda" article about "the American descent to Marxism." On June 3, Dobbs falsely suggested an April 27 opinion piece attacking Obama was the product of the Russian newspaper, Pravda, saying: "A recent opinion column in Russia's Pravda said, because of the president's policies, quote, 'the American descent to Marxism is happening with breathtaking speed.' " In fact, the piece, written by blogger Stanislav Mishin, was published on the Russian website, PRAVDA On-line, a separate media outlet that routinely features sensationalistic stories. [CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, 6/3/09]

While discussing Obama's stimulus plan, Dobbs stated that "[s]ocialism has arrived in the first three months of this year, folks." Citing an "amazing stat," which he said demonstrated that "when we talk about socialism, we're not just a-woofing, as the saying goes," Dobbs said on his radio show. "For the first time in the history of the United States, the federal government has supplanted sales, property, and income taxes at the state level as the biggest source of money for state and local governments." He later added: "[S]o socialism has arrived in the first three months of this year, folks, and it is -- well, it is what it is, and it's not going to change, I'm afraid, for a little while." [The Lou Dobbs Show, 5/5/09]

Dobbs: Cabinet secretaries are "acting like commissars in the old Soviet Union." On the April 16 broadcast of his radio show, Dobbs said cabinet secretaries "are acting like commissars in the old Soviet Union," adding that "it's time for them to get rolled back" because "[t]his is America, and it's not some fascist state." [The Lou Dobbs Show, 4/16/09]

Transcript

From the August 6 edition of United Stations Radio Networks' The Lou Dobbs Show:

DOBBS: Well, we've been talking today about Big Brother, and this administration's despicable program asking you to turn in your neighbors and peers for spreading fishy disinformation about the nonexistent, non-reform health care plan. But does Big Brother want to take your computers as well? Well, if you'd logged onto Cars.gov, and some of my family, by the way, has -- the cash for clunkers website is Cars.gov, by the way -- there's a privacy statement that says, "When logged onto the CARS system, your computer is considered a federal computer system, and it is property of the United States government. Any or all uses of this system and files of this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized Cars.dot and law enforcement personnel as well as authorized officials of other agencies both domestic and foreign."

You get a sense of what health care would be like under the Obama administration? I mean, do you get a sense of what we're dealing with here? This is an authoritarian regime in waiting. And the language is -- if this does not give you pause, if this does not make every single American hesitate and say, "Wait a minute. What are we doing here? Why are we tolerating this?"

Being rushed to judgment, our Congress -- who none of us basically trust, and none of us basically hold in high regard for their competency -- and this president whose poll numbers are plunging and who is now asking citizens to spy upon citizens, it -- what are we doing? What are we thinking?

And they've sent out their attack dogs. Anyone who criticizes the president's policy, who asks a question, oh my God, they've gotta be attacked and attacked relentlessly. You know, even go after their families. No problem with this administration. You know, folks, think about what we're doing. Think about what in the world we're doing.

Talking with Frank Newport earlier, the head of the Gallup poll. He finds -- by the way, I would urge you to go to his findings on health care. I think it's called 10 takeaways on health care legislation. His polling takes 10 issues that -- 10 takeaways from the health care issue, and first and foremost among them is that the American people sense no crisis whatsoever in health care. I think it's 84 percent of all Americans very satisfied with health care and with their insurance. What in the world is happening?

And then to hear that authoritarian language that I just read to you from the Cars.gov. That language was on that website until, what was it, Monday? Monday or Tuesday. Then the White House was forced to change the language to something a little more legalese and a little less incendiary, I guess is the word. At least they think it's less intrusive or at least want us to think it is.

And the federal government said this only applied to dealers, not to the consumers. Just take over the dealers' computers, not just the people who are going on the other. Because that ain't what it said, folks. That isn't what it said at all, and we know what they meant.

Posted In
Government, Cabinet & Agencies
Network/Outlet
United Stations Radio Networks
Person
Lou Dobbs
Show/Publication
The Lou Dobbs Show
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