Viewers tuning in to Lou Dobbs Tonight Tuesday will NOT see Media Matters’ 30-second spot that turns up the heat on Dobbs and the so-called “birther” controversy and also calls out his bosses, specifically CNN U.S. President Jon Klein, for his seemingly tepid response to Dobbs’ ranting.
The liberal watchdog group had bought air time during Dobbs’ program but CNN made their displeasure known to cable operators, according to a CNN spokesperson. Five of the six cable operators contracted for the buy have opted not to run the ad on CNN, according to Huffington Post, who said it may run for a small portion of New York households. The ad is still expected to air on the cable network’s competitors, Fox News and MSNBC.
“CNN retains the right to object to any ad run by the cable operator on our network whose purpose is to attack CNN or our employees,” the network said in a statement.
The ad opens with chilling music set over footage of the Obama family from the Grant Park Election Night celebration. A voiceover tells the viewer that Dobbs has been reporting a “false right-wing conspiracy that President Obama hasn’t produced a valid U.S. birth certificate,” followed by spliced clips of Dobbs saying the words “birth certificate” over and over.
The ad closes with the tag line: “Let CNN know there’s nothing legitimate about racially charged paranoia.”
Klein has been in a tough spot in recent weeks, trying to publicly maintain the network’s “No Bias” creed while grappling with Dobbs’ editorial decision to continue lending air time (and seemingly credence) to a controversy that, even in Bill O’Reilly’s judgment, is bogus.
Late last month, Klein sent an email to Dobbs’ producers in which he said that the “birthers” story was a dead issue. Still, he stopped short of reprimanding Dobbs and, days later at the Television Critic’s Association press tour, said CNN wanted to reflect “a range of points of view” and said he trusted “the best judgments and instincts” of his reporters.
Meanwhile, Lou Dobbs Tonight ratings slid during the last two weeks of July, starting around the time he began fanning the flames of the birth certificate controversy. While “birther” baiting may not be the sole reason for the decline, the banter doesn’t seem to have kept viewers tuned in-and it makes Dobbs look exceedingly out of touch.