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As Lou Dobbs readies to cross another journalistic line in the sand, CNN management remains silent

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.
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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.

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  • cookie
    August 31, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    First off, Dobbs merely objects to illegal alien Hispanics, not Hispanic “immigrants”. He brings attention to how bad all illegal immigration is for our country.
    I don’t care what shows one chooses to watch or whom one chooses to believe, we are all ultimately responsible for our own behaviors and thoughts. If one “hates” it is their own personal feelings and it can’t be blamed on watching some news/journalist’s show. People claimiing this just want to silence another viewpoint and therefore claim they are instigating hate.
    Dobbs always stated that he thought Obama was a citizen (speaking of not reporting the truth well here it is!). He just reported about another point of view on this issue that was out there.
    It is only your opinion that FAIR puts out exaggerated and misleading information on illegal aliens. Counter their findings then.
    I also found Sanchez and Geraldo expressing their own views on many issues and not telling the truth.

  • Che
    September 1, 2009 at 1:47 am

    “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.”
    -Maddow, Olberman, Rick Sanchez are the first ones to come to mind.

  • Jimmy
    September 1, 2009 at 7:10 am

    You seem to lack the journalistic standards yourself. While you declaim Dobbs lack of balance, you yourself have never given people in this blog a balanced view, to include the negative side of illegal immigration. It’s difficult to imagine that illegal immigration, the importation of millions of poorly literate people who have never been checked for criminal backgrounds, whether they are healthy or not or of good character, could be all sweetness and light for the American people. It would seem your criticism of Dobbs is hypocritical. If Dobbs isn’t a journalist, then you are little more than a mouthpiece for the open borders crowd.

  • Marisa Treviño
    September 1, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Jimmy, As I was writing that post, I wondered who would take the obvious jab at me. The very fact that this site presents my opinion is totally the mission of any blog. I don’t appear on a platform claiming to be anything otherwise – unlike Dobbs. But what I do is try not to distort the facts. If I’m wrong, I’ve admitted it and any regular reader knows that the only reason I even allow differing views on this site is to give some balance to the variety of perspectives that exist. I’m not hypocritical. You just don’t understand the purpose of blogs. Maybe you should get your own.

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