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Relentless Pressure from Progressive Groups Pushes Hatemonger Lou Dobbs Out of CNN

Groups like BastaDobbs have done in Dobbs, who used his media platform to stir up racist, anti-immigrant hysteria for years.
 
 
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After relentless pressure on CNN by progressive campaigns like BastaDobbs and DropDobbs.com, Lou Dobbs announced on his Wednesday show that he was leaving the network, effective immediately. "This will be my last broadcast here on CNN, where I’ve worked for most of the past 30 years," he said.

Dobbs' abrupt departure from the network is a major victory for the Latino advocacy groups demanding his resignation. For years, the talk show host has stirred up xenophobic, anti-immigrant hysteria and promoted an array of right-wing talking points, giving lie to CNN's reputation for impartiality as well as comically belying his own claims of "independence."

Some of Dobbs' greatest hits: in 2005 the talk show host implied that Latino immigrants were spreading leprosy in the U.S. He falsely stated that illegal immigrants make up a third of the U.S. prison population. In a March 2009 radio broadcast, Dobbs declared, "Mexico has become our enemy." Of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, Dobbs said "pure, pure, absolute pandering to the Hispanics … "

Dobbs has also stated his support for extremist groups and individuals like the Minute Men, a militia group that patrols the border, and Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who marched inmates from his infamous tent prisons through the streets in pink underwear. Dobbs has ties to the hard-line anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); the talk show host broadcast one of his radio shows from a FAIR event, and the organization, which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has given Dobbs an award for, in their words, "his continued efforts in leading the immigration reform movement."

More recently, Dobbs shocked even his greatest critics by promoting the birther theory -- the thoroughly debunked claim that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore not eligible to be President. Although Dobbs was repeatedly slammed for giving the racially charged theory a mainsteam platform, CNN refused to take action against the host; network President Jonathan Klein said that pursuing the discredited birther theory was Dobbs' editorial decision to make.

Dobb's fear-mongering about Latino immigrants and increasing embrace of the right-wing fringe – and CNN's seeming inability to rein him in – inspired the formation of several campaigns to pressure the network to remove Dobbs. The DropDobbs campaign, in partnership with Netroots Nation, National Council of La Raza and Deloros Huerta Foundation, called on advertisers to end their support of Lou Dobbs Tonight.

BastaDobbs, a consortium of more than 40 Latino advocacy groups around the country, launched a letter writing campaign urging CNN President Jonathan Klein to drop Dobbs for rhetoric "linked to the rise of bigotry and hate crimes." The organization also worked to alert Latinos to the fact that even as CNN courted their viewership with programming like "Latinos in America", the network also gave Dobbs a platform to spew incendiary anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Roberto Lovato, co-founder of Presente.org, which helped coordinate the BastaDobbs campaign, said "Our contention all along was that Lou Dobbs – who has a long record of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about immigrants and Latinos – does not belong on the ‘Most Trusted Name in News. We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has this legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate."

Given all the controversy surrounding Dobbs, it's surprising the network has not kicked him out earlier. Especially since in addition to undermining CNNs brand as "the most trusted name in news" with polarizing, racist rhetoric, Dobbs also failed to bring in ratings. According to Nielsen Media Research, the ratings for his 7p.m. show are down 20 percent since last year. 

In his statement Dobbs claimed that he did not yet have clear plans, saying "At this point, I’m considering a number of options and directions, and I assure you, I will let you know when I set my course."

But even before Dobbs' announcement, a September meeting with Fox's Roger Ailes sparked rumors Dobbs was gearing up to join Fox news. Dobbs' abrupt departure, more than a year before the expiration of his contract, indicates he may found a more fitting home for his hate-filled rhetoric.

Tana Ganeva is an associate editor at AlterNet.