The only surprise was how long it took CNN to suspend contributor Roland S. Martin after the uproar he instigated during the Super Bowl this past Sunday. What’s not surprising is who hasn’t gotten the same punishment for similar offenses.
Which is not to excuse Martin for any of the poorly thought-out joke he threw out on Twitter during the game about this (NSFWish) underwear ad.
After several months of a focused internet and social media campaign pressuring CNN to fire Lou Dobbs, the xenophobic pundit announced tonight he is leaving CNN effectively immediately.
BastaDobbs.org–the virtual Latino coalition which led the campaign against CNN–is claiming victory. “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has this legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate,” said Roberto Lovato. Lovato, who is an accomplished writer, is also the founder of the Latino-advocacy group Presente.org, the lead organization behind the anti-Dobbs campaign. “The community is newly empowered and energized,” he continued, “and we are ready to fight for a respectful and civil media discourse when it comes to immigration coverage on mainstream news.”
I couldn’t be happier that Lou Dobbs’ uncritical voice of hate is off the air. I am a firm defender of anyone’s right to free speech, but I am also fiercely opposed to the notion that we are better as a society if we provide a platform for all speech. Television news–and cable news in particular–has moved into an era where providing a “safe space” for the voices from the political extreme has come to substitute for critical discourse and constructive debate. That isn’t the news and it isn’t “fair and balanced.” It’s petty, and it’s lazy, and it needs to evolve.
Roberto Lovato, a founding member of Presente.org, a Latino advocacy group, said in a statement, “We won’t allow the network to court us as viewers while, at the same time, they allow Dobbs to spread lies and misinformation about us each night.”
Neither CNN nor Soledad O’Brien, who presented the four-hour series, has offered a public comment on the protests; in fact, according to several stories, the network didn’t even cover them. But even worse for CNN, pro-immigrant attorney Lorena García, one of the few people who were profiled positively in the series told the Times the network clipped her own comments:
She had expected a 15-minute conversation about immigration opposite Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., and a staunch supporter in immigration enforcement, on the prime-time program “Anderson Cooper 360.” During the taped interview Wednesday, she said she made several unprompted comments about Mr. Dobbs.
She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs “the two most dangerous men to our communities,” and said that “because of them, our communities are being terrorized in a real way.” She also asserted that CNN was “promoting lies and hate about our community” by broadcasting Mr. Dobbs’s program. The comments were not included when the interview was shown Wednesday night.
“They heavily deleted what I did get to say,” she said.
CNN said the segment in question was tied to “Latino in America.”
“As with all pre-taped interviews, they are edited for time and relevance to the topic of discussion,” a spokeswoman said. “The debate between Isabel Garcia and Joe Arpaio was no exception.”
Of course, CNN’s and Anderson Cooper’s willingness to broadcast a debate between García and Arpaio is also questionable, given the ads featuring Cooper hyping the talk as “extreme.” As I wrote in my reviews, the series’ and/or O’Brien’s inability or unwillingness to place their stories in a larger context on the air, or to acknowledge the disparity between figures like O’Brien and Dobbs and what role they or the network have in the pictures America at large receives of its’ Latino immigrant populations, only weakened whatever good CNN thinks would come out of the series.