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Condemn CNN for Its Lou Dobbs "Birther" Fiasco

By continuing to sanction Dobbs' thinly veiled racism, the network is jeopardizing its status as America's "most trusted" news source.

As if the right's nakedly racist rhetoric weren't bad enough, the American public must continue to swallow the paranoid bloviations of Lou Dobbs, CNN's resident "birther."

In recent weeks, Dobbs has made it his mission to ignore the facts about President Barack Obama's citizenship, demanding again and again that Obama present proof that he was born in Hawaii. Obama has, of course, presented thorough evidence of his citizenship.

But what's perhaps worse than Dobbs' persistence is the reluctance among CNN's bureaucracy to take a firm stance on the issue. The network has allowed Dobbs to continue reporting on birthers, despite an assertion from CNN President Jon Klein that "this story is dead."

Dobbs' most recent endeavors into the conspiracy theory are excusable, Klein recently argued, because they deal with controversy surrounding the debate, not with Dobbs' personal opinion.

But isn't CNN's very act of treating the issue as a supposed "controversy" a thumbs-up promotion of the theory? Shouldn't journalism -- especially from a network that claims to uphold the most exhaustive principles of objectivity -- be more than a platform for paranoid racism? Even Republicans like Bill O'Reilly are starting to renounce Dobbs' jowl-jiggling windbaggery.

"Mr. Dobbs is trying to get ratings, trying to be provocative, just using this to stir the pot and get viewers," O'Reilly said last week.

Ann Coulter, for her part, has said "there's nothing to it ... It's just a few cranks out there."

The "Lou Dobbs Problem," as it's come to be known, "raises the troubling question of who is really calling the shots at CNN," said Eric Burns, president of Media Matters for America. "How can Klein expect Americans to believe that CNN is the 'most trusted name in news' when CNN's own president can't stand by his word?"

It's time to let Klein and others at CNN know that sanctioning Dobbs' rants are tantamount to giving birthers a legitimate platform. Join MoveOn in condemning the network. Tell them to address Lou Dobbs in a prompt, credible manner.

Here are the rest of our Take Action Campaigns for the week.

II -- Stand With Dr. Dean

In a disappointing move, the House recessed before making a decision on health reform, America's most important domestic issue. As those on both sides of the debate step up their media offensives and lobbying initiatives, it's essential to not lose sight of the campaign's most important goal: passing a public option.

According to former presidential candidate and physician Howard Dean, developing a robust public option is an absolute necessity. "Legislation rises and falls on whether the American public is allowed to choose a universally available public option or not," he writes.

It's time to take a stand with the nearly 400,000 who have signed on in support of a public option. Stand with Dr. Dean today.

III -- Support a Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund

A "D-minus" is never a good grade. But that's just the mark the American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave our water and wastewater infrastructures.

There needs to be a permanent federal funding source for water. Two weeks ago, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced HR 3202, which will develop a trust fund for our nation's water. Such a fund would generate green jobs and secure a safe future for our most precious resource. It's time to make it happen.

IV -- Tell the Labor Department to Release Slave Labor Documents

Since it reinstated the Trafficking Victims' Protection Act (TPVA) in 2005, the Department of Labor has been required to develop a list of goods created by exploitative labor. Four years later, it still has not done this.

The release of this report is extremely important. It would provide lawmakers and citizens like you with a framework for battling horrific labor practices. But nothing can be done until the Labor Department follows through on a promise it made in 2005. Pressure from you can make all the difference.

V -- End Violence in Schools

Every year, 350 million children around the world attend school, only to encounter sexual abuse, corporal punishment and bullying. That's more kids than the entire population of the United States. Ensuring that children can learn in a safe environment is a cause warranting international attention.

With your help, the United Nations can urge its member states to pass legislation that would make school safer for kids. You can help make that possible here.

VI -- Protect America's Medical Records

Obama's stimulus bill contained provisions that would do two things: demand that health care providers convert medical records from paper to computers, and implement a slew of privacy protections that would outlaw the sale of such information to private insurance companies.

Now it's up to us to see that lawmakers prioritize our privacy. Tell the Department of Health and Human Services that computerized medical records with strong privacy protections are in the public's best interest. Do it here.

VII -- Eliminate Cluster Bombs

Despite its condemnations of (and attacks on) nations that hold "weapons of mass destruction," the United States is the largest producer and stockpiler of cluster bombs in the world. These horrific implements -- half aerial assault, half land mine -- wound and slaughter hundreds of civilians every year.

Recently, 111 nations signed a ban condemning the use of cluster munitions. Unsurprisingly, the United States was not among them. You can urge your leaders to be a part of this important initiative here.

VIII -- Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Among the most thinly veiled examples of institutionalized homophobia in the United States is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's absurd requirement that gay men and lesbians remain silent about their sexual orientation.

It's outrageous and homophobic to think sexual orientation has some bearing on an individual's ability to perform his/her job. Yet the U.S. continues to maintain this bankrupt policy. Let your representative know that you've had enough. Tell him/her to ditch "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

IX -- Stop Wal-Mart's Assault on Free Speech

Wal-Mart is at it again. It's putting legal pressure on a Web site critical of its Canadian business practices. The mega-megastore has filed an injunction against WalmartWorkersCanada.ca, forbidding it from using the word "Wal-Mart" altogether. In a turn of cruel irony, Wal-Mart is also trying to ban the use of any circular, ovular and oblong smiley faces on the site.

You can join thousands of others who have signed a petition urging Wal-Mart to respect the free-speech rights of its workers. Tell it to stop outlawing smiles. You can do it here.

X -- Save California's Home Care Workers

In an effort to salvage California's sputtering economy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a plan that would rob home-care workers of one-third of their paychecks. Those now making $12.50 per hour would end up with only $8 -- far below the state's living wage.

Tell Schwarzenegger that making life unlivable for those already struggling is no way to resuscitate any economy.