Saturday, December 1, 2007
We covered the fireworks of the Republican Presidential debate earlier in the week. And Lou Dobbs,who cannot be racist because his wife is Mexican-American and who we seemingly cannot avoid seeing on television at any airport in the country, has been a popular piñata for these blogsters. Tim Rutten of the L.A. Times has a very critical -- and especially refreshing because it came from a major news daily -- column linking the debates, CNN, and Lou Dobbs. In "CNN: Corrupt News Network: A self-serving agenda was set for the Republican presidential debates," he writes:
" Selecting a president is, more than ever, a life and death business, and a news organization that consciously injects itself into the process, as CNN did by hosting Wednesday's debate, incurs a special responsibility to conduct itself in a dispassionate and, most of all, disinterested fashion. When one considers CNN's performance, however, the adjectives that leap to mind are corrupt and incompetent.
Corruption is a strong word. But consider these facts: The gimmick behind Wednesday's debate was that the questions would be selected from those that ordinary Americans submitted to the video sharing Internet website YouTube, which is owned by Google. According to CNN, its staff culled through 5,000 submissions to select the handful that were put to the candidates. That process essentially puts the lie to the vox populi aura the association with YouTube was meant to create. When producers exercise that level of selectivity, the questions -- whoever initially formulated and recorded them -- actually are theirs.
That's where things begin to get troubling, because CNN chose to devote the first 35 minutes of this critical debate to a single issue -- immigration. Now, if that leaves you scratching your head, it's probably because you're included in the 96% of Americans who do not think immigration is the most important issue confronting this country. . . .
So, why did CNN make immigration the keystone of this debate? What standard dictated the decision to give that much time to an issue so remote from the majority of voters' concerns? The answer is that CNN's most popular news-oriented personality, Lou Dobbs, has made opposition to illegal immigration and free trade the centerpiece of his neonativist/neopopulist platform. In fact, Dobbs led into Wednesday's debate with a good solid dose of immigrant bashing. His network is in a desperate ratings battle with Fox News and, in a critical prime-time slot, with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. So, what's good for Dobbs is good for CNN. In other words, CNN intentionally directed the Republicans' debate to advance its own interests. Make immigration a bigger issue and you've made a bigger audience for Dobbs.
That's corruption, and it's why the Republican candidates had to spend more than half an hour "debating" an issue on which their differences are essentially marginal -- and, more important, why GOP voters had to sit and wait, mostly in vain, for the issues that really concern them to be discussed. . . ." (emphasis added).
OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One has to wonder why Lou Dobbs remains on the air. It is not because he is reporting "news." Nor is he particularly insightful (even when he has his facts right). What else can it be besides ratings and money? And, if one believes Rutten's account, $ is affecting CNN's marketing, programming, and questions posed at a Presidential debate!