This Tuesday, my organization, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), joined with several national advocacy organizations to launch the Drop Dobbs campaign, an appeal to advertisers to withhold their advertising support for CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight program. We came to this decision in the wake of Dobbs' participation at an anti-immigrant rally in Washington, DC sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group.
According to SPLC:
- FAIR was founded by John Tanton, who also operates a racist publishing company and has compared immigrants to "bacteria."
- FAIR has employed members of white supremacist groups in key positions.
- FAIR has promoted racist conspiracy theories.
- FAIR has accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation devoted to eugenics and to proving a connection between race and IQ.
- FAIR president Dan Stein once suggested that Asians and Hispanics were engaged in "competitive breeding."
For two years, I have tried working behind the scenes with CNN to bring some fairness to the relentless bias of CNN programming due to Dobbs' show. I have documented a litany of issues involving Lou Dobbs, including:
- His regular use of guests representing hate groups, vigilantes, and nativists as experts on immigration
- His relentless repetition of stories on immigrants and crime that project an impression far from reality
- His association of immigrants as carriers of disease that has been both inaccurate and pejorative
I have appeared on the Lou Dobbs show to ask him to curtail his bias and distance himself from the vigilantes and nativists who have appeared on his show. I have also partnered with CNN to address the levels of diversity before and behind the camera in hopes that this would help. CNN's disregard for Dobbs' alarming appearance at the hate group's rally this week has forced us to reconsider our behind-the-scenes approach.
Words have consequences. The Latino community knows all too well the effect that extreme and polarizing rhetoric can have. Over the past five years, the often vitriolic debate surrounding immigration has created a toxic climate for our communities. During that time, we have seen a double digit increase in the number of hate crimes against Latinos and substantial growth in the number of hate groups targeting Latinos. As was illustrated less than one year ago by the murders of Marcelo Lucero and Jose Sucuzhanay, lives are literally at stake.
Lou Dobbs, as a private citizen, has every right to speak at whatever event he pleases. As a representative of CNN's "best political news team in America," however, Dobbs' appearance at this rally provides FAIR the legitimacy of the CNN brand and signals an intensification of the lopsided coverage Dobbs has provided during the debate over immigration reform.
This should be of deep concern to CNN and every one of its advertisers. The credibility of all of their brands is at stake. The Drop Dobbs coalition is compiling a list of those advertisers supporting the Lou Dobbs show and will be reaching out to educate them about this issue. We recognize that many advertisers may be unaware that FAIR has been designated as a hate group, so we are contacting those companies before publicly releasing the list. However, unless and until Dobbs and CNN disassociate themselves from this hate group, we will be asking advertisers to withhold their support.
Join us online at the Drop Dobbs campaign and ask U.S. corporations to drop their advertising from the Lou Dobbs Tonight show. Together we can make a difference and bring accountability back to CNN.