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“Witness the evolution of a country as Latinos change America, and in return, America changes Latinos,” is how CNN entices potential viewers on its Web site. The series is a serious effort to capture a larger share of the Hispanic market – and according to some who have seen it, a worthy one.
Ironically, the series comes at a time when CNN has a huge trust problem with Latinos – and its name is Lou Dobbs.
Dobbs, some say, has thrown ethics overboard and has made a career out of vilifying immigrants.
“The truth is that CNN already airs a nightly program on Latinos in America. It’s called ‘Lou Dobbs Tonight‘, and for 260 hours a year CNN provides air time for anti-immigrant distortions and anti-Latino propaganda,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a national pro-immigration reform group.
“They (CNN) think that a few hours of serious reporting on Latinos by sunny Soledad O’Brien can make up for thousands of hours of anti-Latino extremism from the dark Lou Dobbs,” said Roberto Lovato, of Presente.org and a leader of the movement to dismiss Dobbs.
Through the Present.org Web site, www.bastadobbs.com, over 70,000 people have signed a petition demanding CNN President Jon Klein fire Dobbs. It reads, in part: “As President of CNN, it is imperative that you act quickly and decisively to drop Dobbs from your network, and send the message that CNN does not tolerate hate speech. There should be no place for the likes of Dobbs on the ‘most trusted name in news.’ ”
Hate speech has created a hostile environment for Latinos in America resulting in violence and death. The FBI says that from 2003 to 2006, hate crimes against Latinos increased 40%.
Visitors to the Presente.org can watch the eye-opening video, “CNN: Lou Dobbs or Latinos in America?” They can also find some of Dobbs’ most outrageously false claims, such as the 7,000 cases of leprosy caused by Latino immigrants..
Dobbs has also claimed that “Just about a third of our prison system is made up of illegal aliens.”
But the Department of Justice reports that immigrants (legal and illegal) make just 6% of the prison population.
Presente.org is committed to set the record straight.
“For us, ‘Latino in America’ is a teachable moment that we will use to raise awareness about how Dobbs spreads lies about immigrants in his program and opens it to the most dangerous hate groups in the U.S.,” Lovato said. “It is also about raising awareness that by watching CNN, Latinos are disrespecting ourselves.”
America’s Voice and Media Matters planned to run an ad targeting Dobbs during the broadcast of Latino in America, but CNN refused to air it.
America’s Voice says it plans to run the ad on a competing network.
Angelo Falcón, executive director of the National Institute for Latino Policy in New York, points out that Dobbs’ problem (and CNN’s) is “he doesn’t understand the widespread antipathy to him and his race-baiting that exists throughout the Latino community, on its left, right and middle.”
The question CNN must answer is a clear one, Lovato said: “What is it going to be: Lou Dobbs or Latinos in America?”
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