Advocacy journalism can get you into trouble with America’s gatekeepers. Just ask CNN anchor Lou Dobbs of Lou Dobbs Tonight. Dobbs who has won numerous prestigious journalism awards has increasingly come under heated attacks over the past few years as he has emerged as a national leader. In recent months, he has been the target of The New York Times, The Washington Post, 60 Minutes, Democracy Now!, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Some of these attacks have been editorials and others have come from “friendly” invitations from other network hosts ostensibly giving him an opportunity to promote his new book, Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit.
What sometimes happens is an attempted mugging, in which Mr. Dobbs is asked to give an account of three serious misdeeds lifted from the scores of shows that he has hosted over the past few years. Usually, the mistakes cited were committed by one of his correspondents or by one of his producers who failed to ask a guest contributor if they were connected either directly or loosely with any politically incorrect groups or positions. What has happened recently has been frontal assault by the SPLC that has accused Mr. Dobbs of giving airtime to people connected with white supremacist groups.
Let’s look closely at some of these “serious” misdeeds and their implications.
Misdeed 1: Dobbs claimed that a “third of the prison population” in America are illegal aliens. In fact, the number is 6 percent.
Twenty-seven percent of federal prisoners are criminal aliens. What makes this statement inaccurate is that Mr. Dobbs rounded off the number and neglected to say “federal” prison population. Mr. Dobbs has apologized for his mistake. A 2005 Government Accounting Office report estimated that the federal government’s cost of incarcerating criminal aliens and their reimbursements to state and local governments “totaled approximately $5.8 billion for calendar years 2001 through 2004.” Moreover, the Bureau of Prisons “cost to incarcerate criminal aliens rose from about $950 million in 2001 to about $1.2 billion in 2004.” whether it is federal, local or state, the number of criminal aliens and their costs to an already overburdened criminal justice system ought to be a cause for some concern.
Misdeed 2: Dobbs has had individuals with white supremacist ties appear on his show without disclosure that they were allegedly white supremacist. Among the cited examples were the guest appearances of Chris Simcox co-founder of the Minutemen Project and Glenn Spencer leader of the American Patrol, groups that the SPLC has labeled as hate groups.
As an expert on white nationalism, I can attest to the fact that many individuals that I consider white nationalists have no formal ties to organizations. And some of the organizations now labeled as hate groups by the SPLC are ones that I would quibble with, such as the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR). The SPLC clearly has a political agenda that encourages it to use a broad brush that ensnares many organizations and high profile individuals who disagree with its liberalism.
Many of us believe in free speech and vigorous intellectual dialogue. If Mr. Dobbs were to succumb to his critics and censor his guests, he would lose what makes his show unique. We, the viewers, would be left with the same politically correct talking heads that already dominate mainstream media.
Misdeed 3: Dobbs agreed with one of his correspondents who stated that 7,000 new cases of leprosy have occurred in the U.S. over the past 3 years, when the National Hansen’s Disease Center in Carville, LA reports 7029 cases since 1976.
Leprosy is not a disease that we expect to see in modern day America, no matter how few the cases. A 2006 report produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Reports states that the majority of U.S. cases have appeared since 1980, and it places the number of registered cases at the end of 2005 at 12, 025. In the era before political correctness none other than the venerable New York Times published a December 4, 1983 article titled “Immigration Brings More Leprosy to the United States.”
According to the article, there were 193 new cases of the disease reported in the first nine months of 1982 and it placed the number of U.S. leprosy patients at between 4000-5000. Clearly, the existence of the disease is troubling. The good news is that it is now curable if it is caught early enough. Perhaps the focus on the disease brought about by the attack on Mr. Dobbs might actually save lives if it causes people to become more aware and to seek early treatment.
How should we feel about Mr. Lou Dobbs? Is he a menace to society or is he the truth speaker that America needs to hold her politicians, corporate leaders, and other elites accountable?
I believe that Mr. Dobbs is a man of integrity and courage who genuinely cares about his country. Through the vehicle of Lou Dobbs Tonight, he has awakened many of our eyes to corporate greed, out of control borders, dangerous products from communist China, illegal immigration, unresponsive politicians and racism of all stripes. To fully understand why this man is under attack, one need only watch his show and read his several books.
Clearly, this is a man that has thought long and hard about his country and his Constitution. To me, he is truly an American hero: a man willing to do battle on behalf of millions and millions of ordinary people like the ones we see in our grocery stores. I write these words as a person who has been a contributor to his show. I have met the man. I have seen the man speak in public forums, and I consider the man one of the most compelling voices of our times.