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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.

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