Lou Dobb's Dubious Guest List
During a piece about "illegal immigrants" in Utah, reporter Casey Wian pointed out that Utah was "part of the territory some militant Latino activists refer to as Aztlan, the portion of the southwest United States they claim rightfully belongs to Mexico."
"Aztlan" -- as it is described, does NOT belong to either the U.S. or Mexico.
Turtle Island belongs to the Indigenous peoples, it always has, and it always
What part of this do you Wasicu not understand?
Lou Dobbs' Dubious Guest List
Inter Press Service June 30, 2006
On the May 23 edition of CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight",
the generally affable talk-show host, who has become
the network's go-to-guy on immigration issues, used
a graphic provided by the white nationalist Council
of Conservative Citizens to pound home his point
about a racist anti-immigrant conspiracy theory.
During a piece about "illegal immigrants" in Utah,
reporter Casey Wian pointed out that Utah was "part
of the territory some militant Latino activists
refer to as Aztlan, the portion of the southwest
United States they claim rightfully belongs to
As a backdrop for Wian's report, CNN ran a map of
the United States with the states of California,
Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and
Texas browned out, and labeled "Aztlan".
Over the past several months -- perhaps as a
response to a series of massive pro-immigrant
demonstrations held in dozens of cities across the
United States -- critics say that Dobbs has
repeatedly crossed the line between fair-minded
debate and fear-mongering.
"The problem with Lou Dobbs isn't so much that he
puts people with connections to hate groups on his
show without revealing those ties, or even that he
seems to endorse racist conspiracy theories and
describes anti- immigration vigilantes as 'great
Americans,'" Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law
Centre told IPS.
"The problem is that Dobbs' unrelenting nativist
propaganda is presented to the American public, in
primetime and on the leading news channel in
America, as actually being news. That's a sorry
commentary on the state of the media and, in
particular, reflects the Foxification of CNN," he
said, referring to the network's conservative rival.
CNN did not respond to IPS requests for comment.
But Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a
longtime media watchdog group, notes that Dobbs
regularly stirs up anti-immigrant sentiment on his
"Dobbs' tone on immigration is consistently
alarmist; he warns his viewers of Mexican immigrants
who see themselves as an 'army of invaders' intent
upon re-annexing parts of the Southwestern U.S. to
Mexico, announces that 'illegal alien smugglers and
drug traffickers are on the verge of ruining some of
our national treasures,' and declares that 'the
invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health
of many Americans' through 'deadly imports' of
diseases like leprosy and malaria," the group said.
In addition to hosting his own show, Dobbs has
appeared on other CNN programmes, and he co-hosted
-- along with the network's lead anchor, Wolf
Blitzer -- the coverage of President George W.
Bush's recent prime time speech on immigration.
Dobbs has been an aggressive supporter of "citizen
border patrols" since the Minuteman Project's April
2005 "paramilitary effort to seal the Arizona
border", Potok and his colleague, Heidi Beirich,
reported in the Winter 2005 issue of the Southern
Poverty Law Centre's Intelligence Report.
During the run-up to the Minuteman's first campaign,
Dobbs gave the organisation "millions in free
publicity, plugging it for weeks and turning over
large segments of his air time to directly promoting
the project," observed Marc Cooper, a contributing
editor of The Nation magazine.
And while Dobbs still brings on guests that oppose
his position, he continues to refuse "to present
mounting and persistent evidence of anti-Hispanic
racism in anti-immigration groups and citizen border
patrols," note Beirich and Potok.
The Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC)
Intelligence Report catalogued a number of occasions
when Dobbs overlooked controversial statements,
inflammatory websites, and white-supremacist
connections of some of his anti-immigration guests.
Glenn Spencer, the head of the anti-immigration
American Patrol, has been interviewed at least twice
on the programme. His website contains "anti-Mexican
vitriol" and he "pushes the idea that the Mexican
government is involved in a secret plot to take over
Both the SPLC and the Anti-Defamation League list
Spencer's organisation as a hate group. Spencer has
spoken at events sponsored by the white supremacist
Council of Conservative Citizens and American
Renaissance, a group that contends that blacks are
genetically inferior to whites. Spencer has also
predicted that "thousands will die" in a supposedly
forthcoming Mexican invasion.
Virginia Abernathy served as the head of the
national advisory board to Protect Arizona Now, the
anti-immigration organisation that sponsored that
state's anti-immigration referendum. Dobbs, who
repeatedly reported on the measure, never mentioned
that Abernathy was a long-time white supremacist and
an editorial adviser to the racist Council of
Last year, during a segment on the Minuteman
Project, Joe McCutchen, who the SPLC reports heads
an anti- immigration group called Protect Arkansas
Now, and wrote a series of anti-Semitic letters to
the editor and gave a speech to the Council of
Conservative Citizens, was quoted. Dobbs, who
described the Minuteman Project as "a terrific group
of concerned, caring Americans", made no mention of
McCutchen's connections to white supremacist groups.
On Oct. 4, Dobbs hosted Paul Streitz, a co-founder
of Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control, on
"Streitz denounced Mayor John DeStefano Jr. for
'turning New Haven into a banana republic' by
favouring identification cards for undocumented
workers. Two days later, newspapers revealed that
two of the group's other founders had just quit,
saying Streitz had led it in a racially charged
direction. Dobbs has never reported this," say Potok
Barbara Coe, leader of the California Coalition for
Immigration Reform, was quoted on a show last March
bitterly attacking the retail chain Home Depot for
"betray[ing] Americans", mainly due to the fact that
"Hispanic day laborers often gather in front of the
store looking for work." Dobbs never reported that
her group is listed as a hate group by the SPLC, "or
the fact that she routinely refers to Mexicans as
It isn't everyday that the Council of Conservative
Citizens (CCC) is cited as a source by CNN, or any
other credible news outlet for that matter.
Therefore, it was surprising that Dobbs trucked out
the CCC- sourced graphic to illustrate the Aztlan
The CCC, which had its 15 minutes of fame a few
years back when it was revealed that Republican
Senator Trent Lott had a long-term relationship with
the group, prefers to keep a relatively low profile.
The organisation was founded in the mid-1990s as an
outgrowth of the Citizens Councils of America --
groups formed in the mid-1950s as part of a white
segregationist response to federally mandated
integration of public facilities.
Leonard Zeskind, an author who has researched white
supremacist groups for more than a quarter of a
century, has observed that the CCC had "a
several-year track record of successfully marrying
the white supremacist fringe types with local and
state Republican politicians and thereby having an
influence in the mainstream discourse."
Dobbs, revered in anti-immigration quarters, won the
2004 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the
Coverage of Immigration, given by the Centre for
Immigration Studies, an organisation that SPLC says
claims to be a nonpartisan research institute, "but
in fact is a thinly disguised anti-immigration
On May 25, the St. Louis CCC Blog posted a shout out
to Dobbs, discovered by The Huffington Post's Alex
Koppelman. Under the "Welcome Lou Dobbs" headline,
the text read: "I knew you were one of us all along.
Also, thanks for the proper citation, on CNN, no
*Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the
conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column
"Conservative Watch" documents the strategies,
players, institutions, victories and defeats of the
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion