Saturday, July 25, 2009

Open Letter to Jon Klein of CNN/US re: Lou Dobbs and the alleged Obama "Birth Controversy"

"CNN/US President Jon Klein e-mailed 'Lou Dobbs Tonight' staffers that the legitimacy of the president's birth certificate is a 'dead' story but didn't order them to drop the issue. On his show Thursday, Dobbs did note the explanation from Hawaiian officials [that Hawaii did away with paper documents in 2001 and the only document available is the short form which has been presented], as Klein suggested in his e-mail. But he went on to devote another full segment to the topic. In it, Dobbs stressed that he has said repeatedly that he believes Obama is a citizen, something that he said his critics in the 'left-wing media' ignore. But he continued to press the question of why Obama has not shown a long-form birth certificate. 'When this could be dispelled so quickly, and simply by producing it, why not do it?' he asked [thus inferring that the controversy rages on and that the president has failed to prove himself a citizen, even though the response from the State of Hawaii settled the question]." Excerpts from an LA Times news story titled "CNN chief addresses Obama birth controversy" written by Matea Gold and published on July 25, 2009.

Now, back on Sept. 8, 2004, Dan Rather reported on 60 Minutes Wednesday that a series of memos critical of President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record had been discovered in the personal files of Lt. Bush's former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. The authenticity of these documents was quickly called into question by a small group of bloggers, initially based on their being proportionally printed and displaying other modern typographic conventions with limited availability on military typewriters of the time. This led to claims that the memos were forgeries.

Rather and CBS initially defended the story, insisting that the documents had been authenticated by experts. CBS was contradicted by some of the experts it originally cited. CBS later reported that their source for the documents, former Texas Army National Guard officer Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, had misled the network about how he had obtained them. However, by September 20, CBS retracted the story. Rather stated, "If I knew then what I know now, I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question."

The two incidents have certain similarities. In both cases a network anchor went on the air with a story he presumed to be true (giving Dobbs the benefit of the doubt since he never possessed any evidence that suggests Obama is not a US citizen, whereas Rather did have purported evidence, the alleged copies of Bush's Air National Guard records). However, the situations diverge from there. Once Rather discovered his error, he issued an immediate retraction and full apology. Dobbs, on the other hand used the forum for admitting he was in error to continue to hammer at the "non-issue" for another full broadcast of misinformation, never apologized and never admitted his error. Furthermore, Dobbs used the occasion to lash out at the "left-wing media" who he said were attacking him and his credibility. Lou, when you stick to a story that is a lie and it's been proven by the appropriate agency it is a lie you lose your credibility!

Now, here's the kicker. That so-called left-wing media bias we hear so much about, and who most right-wing nuts claim Rather to have been part of, didn't save Rather's job. He lost his credibility and ultimately was forced out of his position as CBS anchor as numerous producers on the story were fired and Rather took an "early retirement." Meanwhile, that same "left-wing" media bias can't touch Dobbs! He is allowed to continue spewing hate for any and every group which disagrees with his opinions and his desire to see US corporations dominate the global economy. Dobbs continues to have his bully pulpit to express xenophobic class-ism with regard to his never-ending vehemence against so-called illegal immigrants, false protectionism designed to promote the interests of US multinational corporations at the expense of our environment, employment opportunities for workers at home, and the welfare of indigent workers throughout the world (who, I might add, he wouldn't let into the US if he had a choice and whose living conditions and workers' rights he wouldn't want to see improved with more level trade treaties). Dobbs also is enabled to maintain issuing misinformation about the President to a degree that if he were in certain other countries he'd be labeled a traitor and his head would be served up on a platter.

This gives great credence to the claim that not only is there no "left-wing media bias" but that it is a myth created and perpetuated by right-wing hate-mongers and global economy supporters. Furthermore, in reality, what does exist is a "right-wing media bias" which knows no boundaries - not civil, not moral, not ethical and not even patriotic!

If Rather deserved to be pushed into early retirement, so does Lou Dobbs!

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