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Tilting at Windmills

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November 12, 2009

LOU DOBBS EXITS STAGE RIGHT.... It was an unsustainable relationship. On the one hand, CNN presents itself as the "most trusted name in news." It wants to be the neutral, straight-down-the-middle, bias-free cable news network. On the other hand, CNN has been paying considerable sums to a clownish, xenophobic demagogue to host a daily news program. Something had to give.

Yesterday, something did.

Months ago the president of CNN/U.S., Jonathan Klein, offered a choice to Lou Dobbs, the channel's most outspoken anchor. Mr. Dobbs could vent his opinions on radio and anchor an objective newscast on television, or he could leave CNN.

For a time, Mr. Dobbs did tone down his TV rhetoric, but on Wednesday he made a more drastic decision: He chose opinion.

Mr. Dobbs told viewers that he was resigning from his CNN job immediately. Sitting before an image of an American flag on his studio set, he said "some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day."

He remained vague about how he would contribute "to the national conversation," saying that he was considering "a number of options and directions."

That sounds a bit like someone considering a run for public office (Dobbs/Palin '12?), though there are widespread rumors that Dobbs may make the jump to Fox Business, which has been spending freely to recruit higher-profile conservative names lately.

Details are sketchy about whether Dobbs took the leap or was shoved out the door, but the move would seem to help the network -- Dobbs was a near-constant source of embarrassment, and given his third-place finish in his timeslot, this isn't exactly a brutal blow for CNN. The network probably won't have any other on-air talent obsessing over the president's birth certificate, but that's not much of a loss.

Eric Burns, president of Media Matters, a persistent Dobbs critic, said in a statement, "For too long, CNN provided Lou Dobbs with its stamp of approval as he pursued a dangerous, one-sided and all too often false conspiracy tinged crusade against immigrants. This is a happy day for all those who care about this nation of immigrants and believe in the power of media to elevate the political discourse."

CNN may announce a replacement as early as this morning. Unless Pat Buchanan is in the running, the choice is bound to be an improvement.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

Wouldn't Dobbs be perfect for Fox News? Opinionated, right leaning, well known, and believable if you've already drank the Kool-Aide?

Posted by: anomaly on November 12, 2009 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Oooh! Maybe they'll be the one network to have policy discussions about the healthcare bill. I mean real policy discussions with real, like, you know, facts about how this or that area of the bill impacts us, with real fact checked data.

Nah. What was I thinking.

(A girl can dream, though!)

Posted by: MsJoanne on November 12, 2009 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

The rumor over at Balloon Juice was that Dobbs was considering offers from Telemundo and Univision.

Posted by: TR on November 12, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

nah nah, hey ha-ay, good bye! Faux News and L. Dobbs, both "Fairly unbalanced". A match made in racist repig heaven.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on November 12, 2009 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

...and the horse you rode in on!

Posted by: Marko on November 12, 2009 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

If you believe that tag team wrestling can contribute to the national dialogue by providing an outlet of interest to those otherwise dulled by details ...
May I present !
*************** The Jawbones ************** ******** Dobbs and Beck can break your Ennui !

Posted by: FRP on November 12, 2009 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Aaaah...I'm dreaming of real news (apologies to Rachel!).

Ok. I gots it. Since ratings are critical, maybe we could:

- have a news broadcaster show vis a vis American Idol called America's Got Journalism!

- have the anchors sing the news while riding on a unicycle.

- broadcast from an island. All anchors have to eat 6" cockroaches before each break - which the get by dashing across the studio, through broken glass, backwards, and on one foot.

- have Simon Cowell and The Hoff jugde.

- all journalists on CNN have to live together - always. We get to see it all on CNN2, 24/7.

Unfortunately, that's probably the only way we'll ever have true policy discussions.

Posted by: MsJoanne on November 12, 2009 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

How many high-profile CNN hires in the last 2 years have been veterans of the George W. Bush White House? I think that provides a roadmap for the only place they could go for a new host: Liz Cheney.

Posted by: Shalimar on November 12, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Dobbs/Palin like hell.
How about a hi-octane duo like Tancredo/Dobbs?
(Immigrant bashing 24/7).
Just the other day our local (Bolder, CO) AirAmerica host was encouraging progressives to befriend Tom Tancredo on facebook and encourage the dim bulb to run for president.

Posted by: Chopin on November 12, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

You Betcha! with your host, Sarah Palin.

Posted by: doubtful on November 12, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Clearly Lou Dobbs has political ambitions. But how far can he get without having a broad appeal? This is a fascinating development. Would love to see Pat Buchanan and himself on Faux News. They would prove to very helpful to the left. manchestersquare.blogspot.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVuK43PyywQ

Posted by: Trisha on November 12, 2009 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

BREAKING: U.S. Deports Lou Dobbs
http://www.theonion.com/content/news/breaking_u_s_deports_lou_dobbs

Posted by: Jeremy on November 12, 2009 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

I assume that CNN will replace Dobbs with another right-winger. There's a deep pool of craziness out there.

Posted by: MattF on November 12, 2009 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

The most respected name in Sunday morning palaver ? Look no further than the pillow soft rationale carried by no less a figure , when not ensconced in underground bunkers , than the fearful cheinie clan . Can be found sunning itself with the titans of obtuse obstreperous vapours in any weather , on Sundays . Doctors recommended dosage may vary , check with your horoscope .

Posted by: FRP on November 12, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be surprised if CNN tried to go an Olbermann/Maddow route in that time slot. Don't know why, but I'm thinking Dylan Ratigan.

Posted by: slappy magoo on November 12, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Dylan Ratigan?


Nah, he's got a nice 2 hour slot following Morning Jerk, er, Joe.

He has the same financial reporting background as Dobbs, but appears to back up his biases with facts.

-how refreshing. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 12, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

When Sarah Palin gets her own talk show, he can be her fawning sidekick -- "Heeeeeeeeeere's Sarah! Hi-yo!"

Posted by: hells littlest angel on November 12, 2009 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

What a great (though unexpected day)...Dobbs off CNN, Insanity has to apolotize for his "mistake" (yeah, like I buy that), and good old self-righteous sex kitten Carrie P nearly has a minor hissy and leaves Larry King's warm haven! Now if we could just watch Scarah melt before Oprah's fair yet probing interview and see LIEberman become incapacitated...I'd be SMILING all the day long!!!!!

Posted by: Dancer on November 12, 2009 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer @ 9:03….

Huff Post had two articles this morning geared especially for my enjoyment. The first focused on the Catholic Church’s inability “to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law”. The second was that story about Carrie Prejean and how she threatened to leave the Larry King Live show after being asked her reasons for abandoning her lawsuit against the pageant and a caller who identified himself as “a gay man who loves pageants”.

I had this vision of a very large room filled with elephants attempting to balance on chairs while a mouse roamed the place. The caption reads “ever been so frightened you hurt yourself?” More gays please! Oh, and more scary brown folks, too. How about a Michelle Obama/Barney Frank ticket for 2012?

Posted by: Chopin on November 12, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

I've wanted to throw something at the television quite a number of times when Blitzer has asked really ignorant and stupid questions and then again when he follows up with an ignorant, stupid, and childish remark afterwards.
The only one that tops him is Dobbs, but I just get disgusted with him. Ted Turner said if he was still there he'd tell Dobbs to tone it down and stop the vendetta. Dobbs is another one that never lets facts get in the way of his vendettas. I think he's looking for a Faux job.
I never watch Faux and rarely watch CNN for the same reason, they both are fair and balanced (gag me with a spoon), REPUBLICAN viewpoints, not news. I like to have at least a little truth in the news once in a great while.

Posted by: Schtick on November 12, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

You guys think anyone who is not left biased, is right biased. You're just whacking each other off with your conventional wisdom. I hope you feel well informed by the shallow nothingness of CBS, NBC, and ABC evening news. Dobbs has an actual brain, so he has an opinion, not just a lab technican of a journalist using the same PC formula to end up with the same clueless interpretation of the news every evening. I think the networks have one guy writing their evening news and they're all using the same guy. Most of the Brits I know think our so called objectivity is a joke. We all put ourselves into everything we do, to think otherwise is an immature lack of self awareness.

Posted by: rickman on November 12, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

rickman probably thinks Glenn Beck is a great thinker as well. You apparently share the same damaged brain and repeat the same talking points.

Posted by: whatever on November 12, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Rickman: that was silly and inadvertently funny. We need more racist, jingoistic lunatics venting on the air? That is deep thinking there. If we could just scapegoat more people, prosperity and lebensraum await. Sheez. Oh that liberal media!

Posted by: Sparko on November 12, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

I hope you feel well informed by the shallow nothingness of CBS, NBC, and ABC evening news.

No, we hate them, too. Their sucktitude doesn't make Lou Dobbs any less of a blundering, bigoted, bombastic old fool. Sorry to burst your binary bubble.

Posted by: shortstop on November 12, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

I saw this morning that his replacement is John King. How much of an improvement is that?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 12, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

"third place finish in [his/her] timeslot" describes pretty much all of CNN's programming just now; that hardly seems like a driver of letting Dobbs go (especially if, as one hears, the current solution is... more Wolf Blitzer). I think they'd have kept Dobbs, if he'd wanted to stay, maybe with some conditions... but CNN seems no closer today than they were yesterday in figuring out how to deliver an interesting product that will stop the success of Fox's more opinion driven (and opionated) approach. Until then - and let's admit, at this late date, that Anderson Cooper nor Campbell Brown are quite working out - losing Dobbs is probably not a good thing, though in terms of putting Dobbs in a better fit seems at least a good move... for him.

Posted by: nycweboy on November 12, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I saw this morning that his replacement is John King. How much of an improvement is that?

None. Rick Sanchez has shown some balls. Other than him, not so much.

Posted by: MsJoanne on November 12, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

What makes you think CNN is trying to play it down the middle? Have you ever watched John Roberts do an interview? If the interview is with a Republican, he fawns all over them. (He once bragged about riding motorcycles with Karl Rove.)If the interview is with a Democrat, he frames the questions with Republican talking points, and he can't hide his disdain while listening to their answers, if he doesn't cut them off with more talking points.Candy Crowley can't hide her dislike of Democrats either. Every story she tells is from the right wing perspective. Wolf blitzer is going the way of Lou Dobbs. I really think he's losing it. So where do you see the "playing it down the middle"? For the last 4 years or so, I've thought they were trying to outfox FOX.

Posted by: Atlliberal on November 12, 2009 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Lately CNN feels like all the other organizations that don�t deliver news but clever commentary. Its as if they�re dissatisfied unless our country in constant crisis mode. I have watch CNN for as long as I can remember, simply because I thought they were unbiased & clear. For years I watched twice a day. Sometimes I heard what I wanted, others time not. Occasionally they influenced my thought process on a subject altogether. Now I have to force myself to catch a few minutes a week. I am waiting for the day I turn on CNN and find a bunch of old fat farts in polyester suits, smoking cigars calling for the damnation of our country and all those who reside within.

Posted by: Tink on November 12, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Dobbs' idea of "constructive problem solving" is to 'construct' multiple layers of border fences.

Posted by: Ravi J on November 12, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Opinion journalism"? Mr. Dobbs needs to be whacked upside the head because these two terms are polar opposites. Journalism is discerning the facts from opinion and viewpoint, opinion can be any crap anyone wants to make up.

This "opinion journalism" garbage is the stock and trade of Fox cable channels who cherry pick data that fits their viewpoint and makes reality conform to the world as they want to see it. Opinion journalism,therefore, is to be able to lie under the guise of using a media forum that the public entrusts to tell them the truth.

Posted by: petorado on November 12, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sparko playing the race card. If the world were so simple. Immigration concerns are mainly about overpopulation, environmental degradation, and global warming, card playing and carrying liberals should like that. Fiscal responsibility would be another connected concern. Look what has happened to California. I think you're suffering from cognitive dissonance concerning the connection between excessive immigration and environmental degradation. Comfort in contradictions don't last.

Posted by: Rickman on November 12, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Can't wait to see The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert tonight!

Posted by: Me on November 12, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Great.

Now how about Nancy Grace?

Posted by: cld on November 12, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Rickman: Brown immigrants are to blame for everything.

Posted by: Sparko on November 12, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's time to get this 3rd millenium really cooking. You want viewers? Go topless. Trust me, it won't matter what they say.

Posted by: gesundheit on November 12, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kick the Dems and Repubs both out of office cause they both SUCK...Lou Dobbs for President!!!

Posted by: azchick on November 12, 2009 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

If you think theat CNN (Communist National Network) is right wing..you are smoking crack, my friend. Ever watch the Anderson Cooper crap? Lou got booted off or left because of the total bias toward the left. Who cares if he asked about Obamas birth cert? Isn't that what he is supposed to do? As far as immigration...people need to follow the law...get in line, and take a number...I know I did!

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