Immigration reporting has largely disappeared from television, except for occasional updates on the impending amnesty attempt, since Lou Dobbs Tonight abruptly departed from the CNN network on November 11 with a dramatic speech by its eponymous host.
The lesson that Big Media seems to have gotten from the noisy Dobbs take-down by a coalition of far-left and Raza types: even factual reporting about immigration anarchy is no longer safe.
For all its faults, Lou Dobbs Tonight (aka LDT) had normalized immigration as a subject to be investigated like any other. But Dobbs' ego (or ambition) played into the hands of his critics.
The Open Borders squawk squad had complained furiously about Dobbs, and management demanded he cool it on "commentary". But, in addition, for several months prior to his swan song, straight news reporting on immigration disappeared entirely from Lou Dobbs Tonight.
If Dobbs had toned down his commentary and let the top-notch reporting of his staff stand alone, would that have satisfied CNN management? There's no way to know. But his post-resignation valentine to illegal aliens has been a climb-down of epic proportions. Maybe he could have saved his reporters had he done it earlier.
Dobbs' groveling was epitomized by an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo in which he recommended legalization for some unspecified number of lawbreaking aliens. [Watch (Hint: he apologizes for not speaking Spanish in his first sentence.)]
The Wall Street Journal hit the major points of how the worm turned on November 12, 2009:
" 'Whatever you have thought of me in the past, I can tell you right now that I am one of your greatest friends and I mean for us to work together,' he said in a live interview with Telemundo's Maria Celeste. 'I hope that will begin with Maria and me and Telemundo and other media organizations and others in this national debate that we should turn into a solution rather than a continuing debate and factional contest.'
"Mr. Dobbs twice mentioned a possible legalization plan for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., saying at one point that 'we need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants under certain conditions.' "[Dobbs Reaches Out to Latinos, With Politics in Mind, By Peter Wallsten]
Then the late January panderfest with Bill O'Reilly demonstrated that Telemundo was not just an emotional episode. Dobbs recommended a "compromise, centrist piece of legislation that will meet the demands of most of the people who are in this country illegally."
How generous of him. If only La Raza had known!
More recently, Dobbs announced during a radio broadcast (Feb 2; Part 1 and Part 2) that he was bringing together a diverse group to discuss the immigration issue—from restrictionists to open-borders enthusiasts—with the underlying principle being "Compromise". He went to far as to blame the American people for not demanding border security. Thinking like a politician apparently leads to bizarre twists.
It can get messy when media celebs think they can parlay their fame into a Senate seat or beyond, as Dobbs is rumored to believe. They often believe that cleverness on television or in the movies makes them brilliant public policy analysts who can solve the country's thorny problems. But star quality is not quite the same thing as having political chops. For example, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's job performance recently rated a pathetic 27 percent approval, despite his portraying Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator in films. Senator Al Franken, a former Saturday Night Live comedian, earned a so-so 50 percent okay from his constituents. Perhaps he was too funny in a suit.
Peter Brimelow suspects that Dobbs has hired a conventional Beltway-type political consultant who has advised him to move to the mushy middle of the brave new borderless world. It sure looks that way, although the strategy is a sure loser. Dobbs has alienated his pro-sovereignty supporters and no Mexican will ever trust him anyway.
He might better have hired a behavioral psychologist who could have told him that when you reward an action, you get more of it—which is why an enforcement-only policy is the one true path to end immigration anarchy.
Dobbs' call for "compromise" is completely ahistorical. It ignores the long series of pardons, beginning with the 1986 Reagan Amnesty. Reversing decades of permissiveness requires tough measures. Millions of illegals must be encouraged home via attrition (removal of the jobs and benefits magnets) and outright repatriation.
The Dobbs drama has been a long strange trip, propelled along by the personality of the man with his ambitions and curious misunderstanding of immigration. But however the unusual saga came to be, the American public is the big loser. We now have less information about the most pressing issues threatening our values and future. We don't know what we don't know. And the dinosaur media can't be trusted to tell us.
Immigration is a big subject, far more complex than the mere legal/illegal dichotomy. Television viewers now see merely the occasional immigration stories that are easy to explain and non-controversial—Mexico narco-violence, border corruption and such. And there is not even much of that, although the amnesty flurry has created a minor uptick.
Lou Dobbs Tonight news reporters also explored important sub-topics including the usefulness of 287(g) for crime prevention, the various failures of the Bush administration, NAFTA trucking, Catholic bishops meddling and California's instructive demography.
Reporter Kitty Pilgrim even criticized the Southern Poverty Law Center ($PLC) for misreporting hate crimes. That segment surely added to the $PLC's commitment to the Raza version of the Long Knives.
Beyond immigration, LDT featured other under-reported subjects, such as Second Amendment rights, globalist trade, Red Chinese espionage, country-of-origin food labeling, free speech on campus and the shrinking middle class.
In suppressing LDT, the enemies of the American nation have won a round. Keeping honest immigration reporting off television must tend to lower public awareness of the issue, since 71 percent of the public get most of their news from TV.
Let me be clear: LDT was far from perfect. It did top-notch coverage on the topics it chose to investigate. But it avoided large areas of the immigration issue, in particular the environment and cultural differences. Reporting of those issues tended to be occasional and peripheral.
My misgivings were the subject of the June 2008 article, "Triple" Legal Immigration? Say It Ain't So, Lou Dobbs. For someone so identified with the subject, Dobbs' indifference toward the consequences of rapid population growth was very troubling indeed.
Nevertheless, inquiring Americans now don't even have the flawed LDT because of network cowardice about criticism.
Diversity may be strength, but it is not conducive to free speech. Since the beginning of the year, two Scandinavian cartoonists (Lars Vilks and Kurt Westergaard) were physically attacked in their homes for drawing pictures of Mohammed.
American network executives suffer no such threats. But they cower in fear in the face of complaints, no matter how spurious.
Patriotic citizens would be in a terrible fix—if not for the internet, and alternative publications like VDARE.COM.
Brenda Walker (email her) lives in Northern California and publishes two websites, LimitsToGrowth.org and ImmigrationsHumanCost.org. She fears we haven't seen the last of Lou Dobbs.