"I had a sacred trust there, and I let it go.” — Ted Turner, founder of CNN
Media critic Tim Rutten has a great piece in today’s Los Angeles Times: “Bile across the border”
“It’s been a while since a major American news organization treated an important national issue as irresponsibly as CNN now does immigration,” Rutten writes.
Every night when the sun goes down, Lou Dobbs’ apoplectic rants against free trade, foreign investment, outsourcing, immigration and public displays of ethnicity are an embarrassment to journalism and a dangerous distraction from the real issues that need to be addressed.
Never mind that, with the exception of a tiny proportion of Native Americans, every single good (and bad) thing that has ever happened in this country is a direct result of immigration. Ask Native Americans; this country was settled by illegal immigrants from the beginning. Ask the British, this nation was created by people categorized, at the time, as terrorists.
Illegal immigration is a real problem that needs real solutions. But like it or not, Lou, immigrant labor will be part of the solution, as will encouraging workers to stay home and take the relatively high paying local job opportunities created by offshoring and trade agreements. Blaming an unholy alliance of “corporate supremacists,” labor unions and the Catholic Church, Dobbs would have you believe your homes are being overrun by a veritable invasion of criminals and terrorists. And somehow, Lou Dobbs is the only one standing between you and Armageddon. He represents a noisy fraction of opinion that would solve the issue by criminalizing both poverty and compassion and expect that deporting or imprisoning undocumented workers will eliminate everything from unemployment to leprosy.
Contrary to what’s coming out of Washington or CNN, a recent Pew poll found Americans evenly divided over immigration issues, with only four percent believing that it is the country’s most urgent problem. “That’s about what you’d expect to find about the sort of complex social, political and economic problem over which serious-minded people are likely to have serious differences,” Rutten notes. “Maybe the rest of them are just too deeply in thrall to big business or unions or the Catholic Church to see Dobbs’ truth. Maybe they don’t watch CNN — or maybe they recognize self-interested demagoguery when they see it.”
Dobbs, who claims to be a lonely champion of the American Middle Class, opined on CNN.com this week: “One of the things that frustrates many of us who care about our country and the truth is the rampant barrage of misinformation, disseminated by such vociferous special interests, whether they are ethnocentric social activists, labor unions, the Catholic Church or Corporate America. The truth is advocates of amnesty, guest-worker programs and open borders are unconcerned about the 280 million American citizens, the men and women of this country who work for a living and their families.”
Journalists wonder why, when they try to explain that bloggers aren’t really “citizen-journalists,” because professional journalists are certified to practice levels of objectivity and accuracy, bloggers laugh in their faces.
In the course of insistently offering his ever more passionate views on immigration all across the television landscape in just one 24-hour period, Mr. Dobbs underscored that what works in cable television news is not an objective analysis of the day's events but hard-nosed, unstinting advocacy of a specific point of view on a sizzling-hot topic,” the New York Times noted March 29, "While its competitors, the Fox News Channel and to a lesser extent, MSNBC, have consistently built successful programs around aggressively opinionated hosts like Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann, CNN has maintained that its mission remains offering straight news coverage, unseasoned with sharp points of view. Except for Lou Dobbs ... His program, which was up 24 percent in total viewers over the same period last year, is the only good news story in CNN's evening and prime-time lineup, which was otherwise down across the board in ratings for the past quarter.”
Whenever the media overemphasizes their rights (and ratings) at the expense of their responsibilities, bad things are sure to happen.