Southern Poverty Law Center calls on CNN to remove Lou Dobbs from the air over “birther” comments

The SPLC, for anyone who isn’t aware, is one of the nation’s premiere organizations that tracks extremists such as white supremacists and the Klan. The fact that they’re weighing in on this one is very interesting.

One thing that I was wondering about, before I read the letter (below), was the “so what?” factor. Meaning, yeah it’s absurd to say that Obama wasn’t really born in the states, but so what? We won the election, and anyone who is going to be believe Obama isn’t legitimate isn’t going to believe us any more if we get rid of Lou Dobbs. And in any case, isn’t Lou Dobbs permitted to be a bit of an idiot at times (often)? Then I read SPLC’s letter. Do read the excerpt below. I did not realize that the birther rumors, like many of the rumors Dobbs promotes, have their origins in the racist right. That is why SPLC is getting involved, and that is a disturbing trend for CNN’s Dobbs.

An excerpt of SPLC’s letter to CNN head Jonathan King:

As he has in several other instances, Mr. Dobbs, in taking up the birthers’ claims, is adopting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that originated on the radical racist right. As Gawker.com has reported, this particular conspiracy theory was first developed by an open anti-Semite and circulated by right-wing extremists who cannot accept the fact that a black man has been elected president of the United States. Among its adherents was neo-Nazi James von Brunn, the alleged murderer of a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., this June. Von Brunn had helped spread the birthers’ claims on the Internet and attacked the “dishonest & conspiratorial Media” for not taking them up.

This is not the first time Mr. Dobbs has pushed racist conspiracy theories or defamatory falsehoods about immigrants. We wrote you in 2007 to bring to your attention his utterly false claim that 7,000 new cases of leprosy had appeared in the United States in a recent three-year period, due at least in part to immigrants. (The real number, according to official statistics, was about 400. Mr. Dobbs took his spurious information from the late right-wing extremist, Madeleine Cosman.) In addition, Mr. Dobbs has reported as fact the so-called Aztlan conspiracy, which claims that undocumented Mexican immigrants are part of a plot to “reconquer” the American Southwest. He has suggested there is something to a related conspiracy theory that claims the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada are secretly planning to merge into the “North American Union.” He has falsely claimed that “illegal aliens” fill one third of American prison and jail cells. And Mr. Dobbs has routinely disparaged, on CNN’s air, those who have had the integrity to point out the falsity of these and similar claims.

Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda. It’s time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves.

And here is Jon Stewart’s commentary on Dobb’s coverage of this, after the jump.



Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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