CNN’s Lou Dobbs is a man with a mission: Keep hammering on immigration in the United States.
He’s been at it for years, warning that immigrants (illegal and sometimes legal) are a threat to the country’s economic and social well-being, maybe even its domestic tranquility and security.
Whether or not he believes everything he says — and apparently he does — it’s a very effective broadcast shtick, a hot-button political issue and one that’s easily played (and manipulated), especially when the economy has been faltering and terrorist attacks from abroad remain a threat.
And especially at a time when polls show hardening public attitudes toward immigrants.
For CNN — which projects an image of relative moderation (at least compared to its cable rivals MSNBC on the left and Fox News on the right) — Dobbs comes across as fire-breathing.
“If anybody thinks we’re not engaged in a battle for the soul of this country right now, you’re sorely mistaken,” Mr. Independent (as he calls himself) declares on his Web site.
Naturally (and no doubt intentionally) he’s raised the ire of critics, who paint him as a nativist if not a racist.
Hispanic and immigrant-rights groups have been on his case.
“We believe it is our duty to raise our voices against this slanderous campaign that goes on every night,” Oscar Chacon, executive director of the Chicago-based National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, said recently.
The National Council of La Raza and the Southern Poverty Law Center have started a project called “Drop Dobbs” to put the heat on CNN advertisers.
Geraldo Rivera (no stranger to controversy himself) says of Dobbs: “He discovered that one of the ways to get people to watch was to make of the image of a young Latino trying to get into this country a profoundly negative icon. Lou Dobbs is almost single-handedly responsible for creating, for being the architect of the young-Latino-as-scapegoat for everything that ails this country.”
Dobbs reports threatening phone calls, and now somebody may have taken a potshot at his house in New Jersey. It could have been an accident — a hunter perhaps, since the bullet had traveled a long distance and bounced off the side of the house. But Dobbs and his wife (who was standing outside their home at the time) don’t think so, and they’re blaming his critics.
“They’ve created an atmosphere and they’ve been unrelenting in their propaganda,” Dobbs said on his radio show.
Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan White House political director, suggests in his American Spectator blog that the United Church of Christ and the interfaith group “So We Might See” might have incited animosity against Dobbs through its campaign against “hate speech.”
Meanwhile, CNN is not doing well in the ratings.
“CNN, which invented the cable news network more than two decades ago, will hit a new competitive low with its prime-time programs in October, finishing fourth — and last — among the cable news networks with the audience that all the networks rely on for their advertising,” the New York Times reported on Monday. “That means CNN’s programs were behind not only Fox News and MSNBC, but even its own sister network HLN (formerly Headline News.)”
There’s speculation that Dobbs might jump the CNN ship for Fox News, where he might feel more at home among other Obama administration critics.
“Fox Business Network, which recently picked up firebrand Don Imus, is reportedly interested in Dobbs, whose controversial anti-immigration, anti-Administration stance has sat awkwardly with the rest of CNN’s programming of late,” Rachel Sklar writes at Mediaite.
Stay tuned. Whether Dobbs moves to Fox or stays with CNN, he’s likely to keep hammering on immigrants and immigration policy.