Friday, November 13, 2009

Commentators React to Dobbs' Departure From CNN

Here's a short one-minute snippet of reactions to Lou Dobbs sudden departure from CNN. It was compiled by POLITICO. Most everyone was gracious to Dobbs with the exception of Keith Olbermann and The New York Times, who both showed their class once again.

In addition to his on-air comments, Olbermann had this advice for Dobbs' soul on POLITICO's Arena:

I can only say that I always wondered if his stance on immigrants, legal or otherwise, took a bigger toll on him than on the immigrants. This is, whether he or others will admit it, a Hispanic issue, and not only are Lou's wife and kids Hispanic but the daughters are in the Horse Show game, which, after the restaurant industry, is the top employer of undocumented immigrants in this country - and Lou helps pay them. If that isn't the ultimate hypocrisy, it must be the ultimate self-contradiction and very painful psychologically.

I worked with Lou as long ago as 1981 and I never heard any of this back then. He's always been a bully and one of those put-up-your-dukes clowns, but I think the immigration stance was mostly opportunistic. The insincerity of the xenophobia would explain how he went from 2nd place to 4th.

As to what he should do next, his soul would benefit from a few years at Telemundo.

The New York Times used up valuable Editorial Page space to make this comment:

Lou Dobbs has left CNN, or maybe the other way around. Whichever it is, an old, odd, infuriating-to-many mismatch of sober network and strident host is over. CNN, for now anyway, changes back to something closer to the nonpartisan, straight-up news network it wants you to think of it as, different from its ideologically branded rivals Fox News and MSNBC. The real question is the effect the change will have on Mr. Dobbs.

Mr. Dobbs, once a pinstriped purveyor of financial news, has burrowed deep into the popular culture as a self-styled populist enraged by illegal immigration. When he resigned on the air Wednesday night, he made it clear that that aspect of his public persona is not going away. He listed immigration along with jobs, the middle class and war as among the issues urgently needing his kind of honest, straightforward examination.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “these issues are now defined in the public arena by partisanship and ideology rather than by rigorous, empirical thought and forthright analysis and discussion.”

Mr. Dobbs couldn’t have phrased a more apt criticism of himself. He calls himself Mr. Independent, but he is far closer in style and method to the right-wing ranters who mold the facts to shape the argument on television and on AM radio, where Mr. Dobbs still has a show. Mr. Dobbs’s CNN program has long been a nesting ground for untruths and conspiracy theories: fretting over a nonexistent, immigrant-borne leprosy epidemic; questioning President Obama’s citizenship; issuing dark warnings about the “North American Union,” a supposed plot to strangle United States sovereignty.

It’s hard to pinpoint how much damage these kinds of ideas have done to the national discussion of illegal immigration, but they have been corrosive. Solutions have withered as many politicians parrot the central myth that people desperate to seek new lives in the United States are an affliction to be feared, not an opportunity to be engaged, future Americans who could enrich the country as immigrants always have and will.

Now Mr. Dobbs has pledged to “engage in constructive problem solving.” Here is a problem to solve constructively: Illegal immigrants are, as Mr. Dobbs likes to say, decent, honest, hard-working people. They are exploited by greedy corporate interests. They are not about to deport themselves, and we aren’t about to deport them all.

It’s a problem to which Mr. Dobbs has never really offered an answer. Perhaps someday he will.

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