LatinaLista — Back in the heyday of journalism, before the whole debate of whether or not bloggers were journalists, journalists were always careful not to attach their names or appearances to events and/or issues that might suggest to their readers/viewers that they leaned a particular way.
Nowadays, it’s a badge of honor for some, who claim to be journalists, to air their opinions and affiliations openly.
For a hard-news journalist, this is still a no-no but for those journalists who have migrated from in front of the camera to behind the hosting desk of their own show, it’s become more acceptable.
Most of the news shows hosted by a journalist still adhere to the ethics of the profession — balanced reporting and minimal opinion inserted in the delivery of news stories.
Others, who never really practiced journalism but feel that commenting on the news qualifies them as journalists, have no such reverence for journalistic ethics. Their shows consist of their one-sided opinions.
For most news networks, it isn’t too much of a problem when this occurs because the majority of these opinionated hosts are not considered true journalists by viewers or critics but crossovers from talk radio who have been unfortunately blessed with their own network pulpit.
However, there is one news show host that clearly wants to still be seen as the news journalist he truly used to be — CNN’s Lou Dobbs.
The only problem is that along the way, Dobbs forgot the most basic tenet of journalism — a journalist reports on the news, he/she doesn’t become the news.
It’s no secret that among Dobbs’ inflammatory opinions, his views on immigration, undocumented immigrants and border security have fanned the proverbial flames of a growing anti-Hispanic immigrant sentiment in the country that is increasingly putting some Latino immigrants’ lives in danger.
Yet, he’s allowed to have a stage for his inflammatory opinions on one of the last cable news networks that actually tries to present news in an unbiased, balanced and informative way.
One of the reasons is because Dobbs’ show brings in the ratings and the advertisers, but there has to be a moral line for even the most profit-conscious company in these days when civil discourse and behavior is spiraling out of control and shows like Dobbs are one of the great influencers of this spiral decline.
Many thought the moral line that Dobbs crossed was trying to convince his viewers that Obama wasn’t really a U.S. citizen. CNN’s president let his star ratings-getter stay on though it’s rumored memos were sent to tone down the rhetoric.
Now, here’s a second moral line in the sand that Dobbs has every intention of crossing. It’s his upcoming publicized appearance next month at a radio rally sponsored by a group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — a known group that puts out exaggerated and misleading information on undocumented immigrants and federal immigration policy.
The event billed as “Hold Their Feet to the Fire 2009: Talk Radio’s Annual Drive for Immigration Reform” touts itself as “the largest gathering ever of talk radio, 47 hosts…”
Not surprisingly, there is no mention of CNN with Lou Dobbs. He is listed as being “Lou Dobbs of United Stations Radio Network.” Unfortunately, though, for Dobbs, he is synonymous with CNN. So, it doesn’t really matter that CNN isn’t mentioned, the network is being dragged into association with this biased organization by Dobbs’ presence.
If CNN cared that Dobbs not drag the network into yet another decisively political issue, they would tell him not to do the broadcast. However, on his site on CNN, Dobbs makes it clear that he is “independent.” Obviously, it means that no network tells him what to say or do, regardless of how it impacts the credibility of the network and the hundreds of journalists who strive to present news the way journalism should be practiced.
It’s time for CNN’s management to look past Dobbs’ ratings and reclaim the mantle of what journalism is all about and the foundation on which CNN was built — fair and accurate reporting that doesn’t demonize but reports the facts.