October 26, 2009

CNN last week took steps to repair its tattered image with the Latino community by running a heart-warming series, Latino in America, that does a reasonable job of exploring the realities of daily life the nation's fastest-growing minority bloc.

But what they really don't want to talk about is Lou Dobbs -- the most Latino-bashing media figure of them all. And it's already biting them in the butt, as the New York Times noted this weekend:

CNN, a unit of Time Warner, has not commented on the protests or covered them on its news programs. One of the activists featured in the documentary said she tried to raise what she called Mr. Dobbs’s “hatred” on one of the channel’s news programs Wednesday, but her remarks were cut from the interview.

... Privately, when some executives are asked about the Dobbs complaints, they sometimes cite the production of “Latino in America,” with the implication being that the channel presents many points of view. The documentary, which drew an average of about 900,000 viewers on Wednesday and Thursday, follows two editions of “Black in America.” It presented Hispanic activists with a new rallying point this fall.

Isabel Garcia, a civil rights lawyer who was featured in “Latino in America” and organized an anti-Dobbs protest in Tucson on Wednesday, said that CNN edited her comments about the anchor out of an interview.

She had expected a 15-minute conversation about immigration opposite Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., and a staunch supporter in immigration enforcement, on the prime-time program “Anderson Cooper 360.” During the taped interview Wednesday, she said she made several unprompted comments about Mr. Dobbs.

She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs “the two most dangerous men to our communities,” and said that “because of them, our communities are being terrorized in a real way.” She also asserted that CNN was “promoting lies and hate about our community” by broadcasting Mr. Dobbs’s program. The comments were not included when the interview was shown Wednesday night.

“They heavily deleted what I did get to say,” she said.

CNN said the segment in question was tied to “Latino in America.”

“As with all pre-taped interviews, they are edited for time and relevance to the topic of discussion,” a spokeswoman said. “The debate between Isabel Garcia and Joe Arpaio was no exception.”

Yeah, right. And Dobbs' birther coverage never promoted any conspiracy theories, either.

Basta Dobbs has been organizing a Dobbs advertising boycott, as well as protests of CNN by Latinos last week to coincide with the broadcast of Latinos in America:

“Our message to CNN is clear: You cannot have it both ways. It’s either promotion of hatred by Lou Dobbs or real news regarding the Latino community,” said Isabel Garcia, a prominent civil and human rights attorney in Arizona who is highlighted in the “Latino in America” series and who is also participating in the BastaDobbs.com effort.

“Lou Dobbs abuses the CNN platform to dehumanize and spread fear about Latinos and immigrants. It is no surprise that hard-working Latinos in this country are increasingly victims of hate-motivated violence,” added Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “CNN must be accountable to one of the largest minority groups in the United States if it seeks to gain their following and respect”.

It's becoming evident that CNN has told Dobbs to chill. Unlike any similar time period in the past eight years, Dobbs has done only a handful of segments on immigration in the past couple of months. Of course, when he has discussed it, he can't help referring to comprehensive immigration reform as "amnesty" and fetishizing over the "amnesty question" -- as he did last week:

[H/t Heather]

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