Lou Dobbs Attacks Media Coverage of Illegal Immigration

Update: Video, audio links for interview below the jump.

It is rare for a mainstream media journalist to openly criticize the media’s coverage of a particular issue. But that is exactly what CNN’s Lou Dobbs did on Tuesday’s "American Morning." In an interview with co-host Kiran Chetry, Dobbs blasted the media’s coverage of illegal immigration, saying "They're selling an agenda. And they're not applying critical judgment. And critical judgment and skepticism is our job as journalists. We're talking about comprehensive immigration legislation as reform. We're using the word 'reform' as if it were true. There's no skepticism."

Dobbs’s interview was part of "American Morning’s" coverage of pro-illegal immigration rallies on May Day, the traditional socialist workers’ holiday. When asked if any progress had been made in the past year concerning illegal immigration, Dobbs said that "we're making, at the margin, progress, but it's at the margin, " and that there was some better enforcement at the border. He then criticized one of the Congressional immigration reform proposals, the Flake-Gutierrez immigration bill, calling it "an absurdity."

Dobbs also answered a couple of questions that were sent in by viewers. Dobbs continued his criticism of the mainstream media in his answer to the first question, which dealt with illegal immigrants’ impact on the economy. "Has anybody on this broadcast, any news organization in the country, said, wait a minute, why in the world are we worrying about illegal immigration into this country and their -- and their situation, before we're worrying about how long it takes to become a lawful immigrant in to this country and what we're doing with people who are playing by the rules? This is upside down. It's wrongheaded. And it is simply, to me, a travesty that mainstream media journalists are not focusing on the facts."

Kiran Chetry also interviewed Eddie Sotelo, a talk show host on a Spanish-language radio station in Los Angeles, on the subject of illegal immigration. Sotelo helped promote last year’s May Day rallies for illegal immigration.

Video (6:30): Real (4.77 MB), or Windows (3.98 MB), plus MP3 (2.97 MB)

Key excerpts from Lou Dobbs's interview:

CHETRY: What progress have we made, if any, from last year?

DOBBS: Well, I think that there is some better enforcement at the border, but the fact is we still have a million apprehensions at the border. And that means, according to the Border Patrol's rough yardstick, somewhere between two to three times those caught. And let's call it a number of about a million getting in illegally each year. And whether the number is a half million or a million, the fact is the government doesn't know. We're making, at the margin, progress, but it's at the margin....

CHETRY: The president's proposal -- and I want to get your thoughts on this -- is the three-year work visa. They pay money for it. They have to return to their home country, apply for residency, pay a fine, and can come back. Now, no one likes that. The immigrant groups don't like it either.

DOBBS: It's idiotic. And the fact that the president of the United States, the fact that the Congress of the United States, and the Democratic leadership, particularly in the Senate, could put this legislation before the American people -- the Flake-Gutierrez bill, 700 pages of utter nonsense that, frankly, no one in Congress has read. But it's an absurdity. It's amnesty. It would cost this country a fortune. And for what? The issue is secure borders. The issue is not 12 to 20 million illegal aliens in this country. The issue is enforcing the law.

You know, it's fascinating to me to look down at that lower third. You see that, Kiran? It says 'Immigration Nation.' What in the devil does that mean?

CHETRY: Well, we put it there because it rhymes, I think. It rhymes.

DOBBS: OK. I mean, but everyone should ask themselves, what is the mainstream media in this country doing? They're selling an agenda. And they're not applying critical judgment. And critical judgment and skepticism is our job as journalists. We're talking about comprehensive immigration legislation as reform. We're using the word 'reform' as if it were true. There's no skepticism.

Everyone, every journalist has the responsibility to look at what's happening. And instead, I listen to Chris Lawrence and Alina Cho, standing before the Statue of Liberty, talking about the heartbreaking, the horrible experiences of many illegal immigrants coming into this country. All of which is true, but not on point, because the fact is that four industries in which illegal aliens are the predominant employee -- that is landscaping, that is leisure and hospitality, and now construction -- wages in all four of those industries have declined over the last five years.

Where is the shortage of labor? If there was a shortage, those wages would moving higher. This is propaganda, and it's got to stop. And the mainstream media has a responsibility to challenge this nonsense....

CHETRY: One person, William from New York, asked, 'How can we deport people when our economy depends on them?' You spoke to this issue just a moment ago.

DOBBS: Sure.

CHETRY: Don't we need illegal immigrants here?

DOBBS: You do not need illegal immigrants at any time in this country. This is -- I wish it would say instead of 'Immigration Nation,' it said 'Nation of Laws.'

We need immigrants in this country. That's why we bring in more than two million. Has anybody over the past hour on this broadcast or this network reported, or any other network, reported that we bring in more than two million immigrants into this country lawfully each and every year? Has anybody on this broadcast, any news organization in the country, said, wait a minute, why in the world are we worrying about illegal immigration into this country and their -- and their situation, before we're worrying about how long it takes to become a lawful immigrant in to this country and what we're doing with people who are playing by the rules? This is upside down. It's wrongheaded. And it is simply, to me, a travesty that mainstream media journalists are not focusing on the facts.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center