CNN’s Vice President of Racism and Associates – by Stephen Lendman
Move over Bill, Chris, Michelle, Rush, Sean, & Company. Make way for a worthy challenger to the title of leader of the racist rant pack holding court weekday evenings on his hourly show on CNN. Who would have thought back in the days when this well-known cable TV financial news anchor was CNN’s executive vice president and then president of the ill-fated CNNfn program he launched that one day he’d switch roles on the network and become the managing editor and anchor of a nightly news program he calls Lou Dobbs Tonight. And who might have guessed this well-thought of financial host would transform himself into a raving racist never letting a program pass without blaming all the country’s ills on the poor and desperate people “the color of the earth” south of the border for practically everything going wrong in the country from the fraudulent war on terrorism to the falling dollar.
He does it on the nightly segment he calls “Broken Borders,” and it hardly matters to this anchor/commentator (or most any other one on corporate-run TV) that these people only come here in desperation because the 1994 NAFTA trade agreement destroyed their livelihoods and lives at home, and the only way they can find work to feed their families is to come el norte. It would never occur to this program host or CNN’s management that they they owe their audience an explanation why most people everywhere have no wish to leave their native lands, move to a strange new one where they don’t speak the language or have any ties, and face a hard period of adjustment along with leaving their loved ones at home to do it. They only come here or elsewhere because they have no other choice if they wish to survive, and instead of blaming them, we instead should expose and denounce the US-led NAFTA-codified dictates that caused their immiseration in the first place.
What You Won’t Hear About Immigrants On CNN
Most immigration, legal and illegal, around the world is the result of unemployment, poverty or conflicts forcing desperate people to move to more developed countries to find jobs or safety unavailable at home. According to the International Labor Organization, it’s not just a US problem. It’s a global one that in 2005 forced 200 million people to emigrate to a new country, up from 175 million in 2000 and 82 million in 1970. With at least half the world’s population living in poverty and the numbers increasing annually (and a number of serious conflicts ongoing as well), is it any wonder so many of them are on the move each year seeking relief to be able to survive.
It’s not getting any easier for them as the US and Western imposed globalized so-called neoliberal “free market” economic model is little more than a race to the bottom driven by giant corporations exploiting the developing world and its people for greater profits. It’s what Michel Chossudovsky wrote about in his important 2003 book titled The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order. In it he explains the current WTO/IMF/World Bank imposed system is one of “capital creation through destruction.” It creates big profits for transnational corporations at the expense of mass and growing poverty, human misery, the ability of the planet to sustain life, and eventually will lead to less demand for the exports these corporations need to continue increasing their profit growth. So why would smart corporate CEOs be willing to do this knowing a day of reckoning is ahead. Simple – today they reap the big profits they seek and Wall Street and investors demand and manana is for a future CEO to worry about. For the poor and desperate people south of our border and around the developing world, manana is today, and millions of them are on the move because of it.
Why Programs Like Lou Dobbs Tonight Get Regular Air Time
So why does CNN put up with the kind of demeaning and racist programming Lou Dobbs specializes in? Simple, because it draws large audiences meaning CNN (self-dubbed “the most trusted name in news”) can charge premium rates to corporate advertisers that want their message heard on highly rated programs. It’s the profit motive stupid like it always is. If it sells, it gets air time because that’s what this business or any business is all about. Understanding that, you might believe TV networks would consider running porno films every night in prime time if they could get away with it as apparently that kind of material and gambling draw the largest audiences online. They surely would attract a big following on prime time TV as well although advertisers would have to be innovative in drawing audiences to their message after they’d been watching that other fare.
But as long as advertisers love it, will pay well for it, and it’s allowed over the airwaves, CNN lets Dobbs get away with his crusading advocacy journalism that clearly crosses the line and violates the basic principles of honest news reporting. It’s delighted to give him an hourly weekday sound stage to preach his message of hate and misinformation that fills the CNN airwaves with vitriolic language like “alien invasions” and “innundations” (illegal ones, of course). At other times he’s called Mexican immigrants an “army of invaders” wanting to reannex parts of the Southwest – meaning, of course, their presence in large enough numbers threatens our white Anglo-Saxon culture. Still other outbursts refer to “illegal alien smugglers and drug traffickers are on the verge of ruining some of our national treasures.” He also claims “the invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans (with) deadly imports” of diseases like leprosy and malaria.
What’s most troubling is people believe this stuff, and he’s winning awards for his work. In 2004, Dobbs received the Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration and the Man of the Year Award from The Organization for the Rights of American Workers for the other more credible regular segment he features on his program – the corporate outsourcing/exporting of US jobs to low-wage developing countries resulting in this nation joining the race to the bottom along with all the others exploiting working people for profit.
Dobbs is very hard line as a managing editor as well having the final say on what issues are discussed and who appears on his program. He makes no bones about wanting to avoid alternate views to his own and has said in so many words that the truth is what he says it is. To keep it that way, he carefully chooses guests whose views match his own making sure other versions of the truth almost never have a voice on his air time. So for viewers wanting to understand what the immigration issue is all about, they’ll never find out tuning in to Lou Dobbs Tonight. But for extremist hate-mongers like the vigilante Minutemen, self-appointed to guard our southern border, challenge dark-skinned workers at day labor centers, and use violence with impunity to do it, Dobbs is preaching to the choir. Their hate-filled white-supremacist message to their followers is much like what Dobbs and his guests tells their audience – that Latino immigration here is “a silent Trojan Horse invasion that is eroding our culture.” What they never explain is that demonizing immigrants and controlling their movement across borders is part of an imperial elite strategy used to exploit workers for power and profit and use xenophobic-induced fear as a way to help do it.
Dobbs Has Lots of Company In the Race-Baiting Game
It wouldn’t be so bad if Dobbs and a few others were just outliers running counter to most other programming where viewers wanting objective journalism could still get it. But expecting that from the Fourth Estate anywhere on corporate-run television would be as likely as finding carnivores that were vegetarians. Just on CNN alone, Lou Dobbs has an array of worthy challengers. Take longtime anchor and commentator Jack Cafferty on air in the afternoons. He’s as scornful of immigrants’ rights as is Dobbs and derides them with vicious hate-talk like “mobs of illegal aliens….who don’t belong here….and have no rights.” He calls for “pull(ing) up the buses (demanding) these people…show their green cards….and the ones that don’t have them, put them on the buses and send them home.”
While Cafferty doesn’t say how he wants these people assembled to prove their legal residency status or citizenship, it sounds like he favors neighborhood and house-to-house searches to find them. In other words, in Cafferty’s strange mind, brown-skinned people are criminals, don’t belong here, have no rights and should be deported back where they came from. Apparently it never occurred to Cafferty, Dobbs or other CNN hosts and commentators just as guilty at times of hate-talk that these so-called ‘illegals” give back far more than they get here. They pay billions of dollars annually in taxes and get few social services for them in return. So the net-net from them is they help grow the US economy, and their employers value their services. If these immigrants, legal or illegal, weren’t here and wanting work, the employers hiring them would be hard-pressed to fill the jobs most others don’t want.
Spreading fear and hate is also the tactic former CNN commentator, now ensconced as an MSNBC political analyst, Pat Buchanan perfected years ago and is now preaching in his outrageous new book called State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America. In it, Buchanan makes it sound like “the barbarians” are at our gates, they have us surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned, and our days are numbered as they’re about to take us over, destroy our society and culture and make us over into whatever it is Buchanan thinks they have in mind. Buchanan has never shied away from controversy on-air, in his syndicated column or in an August 8 online one in which he referred to George Bush’s “La Raza immigration policy, featuring amnesty and a ‘path to citizenship’ for 12 million illegal aliens, (and) pardons for all businesses that hired illegals.” Thirty years ago while condemning Hitler as an anti-semite and racist, he praised the Nazi leader as “an individual of great courage” and wrote of his “genius (being) an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality….of the statesmen who stood in his way.” It sounds a lot like sympathy with and praise for a man most consider the most heinous of all 20th century dictators.
He’s also been on the extreme fringe in his views about African-Americans and the civil rights legislation so essential to them and once when serving in the Nixon White House told the President “the integration of blacks and whites – but even more so, poor and well-to-do – is less likely to result in accommodation than….in perpetual friction, as the incapable are placed….by government side by side with the capable.” He’s also said and written much that makes him fair game to be called an anti-semite and equal opportunity racist believer in white superiority, opposed to gay rights, demeaning of women and their rights, a believer that Christianity is the superior religion to all others, and hostile to the notion that real democracy is preferable to “quasi-dictatorial rule” from his undisguised admiration for Hitler’s “courage (and) genius” and praise for the dictatorships of Francisco Franco in Spain and Augusto Pinochet in Chile calling them both “soldier-patriots.”
In his new book, already a best-seller from all the free media exposure it’s getting, Buchanan conducts a verbal racist jihad against all non-European immigrants meaning all those not white. He uses language like the US must keep “Americans of European descent (from becoming the) minority (in order to) survive (and George Bush’s immigration policy) will lose the American Southwest to Mexico linguistically, ethnically, (and) culturally (and the Southwest) part of America is moving back to Mexico, from whom we took it in 1848.” He further wrote “We are witnessing how nations perish….We are entered upon the final act of our civilization….Chicano chauvinists and Mexican agents have made clear their intent to take back through demography and culture what their ancestors lost through war….(we’re losing ground) in the midst of a savage culture war (and) The first imperative is an immediate moratorium on all immigration….But even (then), success is not assured.”
Buchanan also believes the Bush immigration policy is “economic treason against the American worker….(will result in) the complete Balkanization of America, (and) by 2050 America will be a Third World country….Our great cities will all look like Los Angeles today. Los Angeles and the cities of the Southwest will look like Juarez and Tijuana.” With views like these, it would seem Pat Buchanan would rank high on the list of the kind of guests Lou Dobbs wants to feature on his nightly program even though he now works for a competitor.
Another Longtime CNN Anchor Who Excels In A Different Kind of Race-Baiting – Against Muslims
One other CNN stalwart also deserves mention and considerable scorn. He’s longtime CNN reporter and anchor Wolf Blitzer who daily spews a different brand of racism along with the usual mix of US empire-supportive lies, myths, rationalizations and lots more heard all over the corporate media airwaves. Blitzer currently hosts a weekday afternoon program called The Situation Room as well as the Sunday Late Edition talk show. He began his journalism career with Reuters in their Tel Aviv bureau before moving to Washington as White House correspondent for the hard line ultraconservative Jerusalem Post. He’s held a number of positions at CNN as military affairs reporter during the Gulf war, White House correspondent and more. What’s ignored about Blitzer that should stir controvery is that at one time he was a lobbyist for the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). That and his one-time connection to the Jerusalem Post are part of his roots making it impossible for Blitzer to be objective reporting on anything about Israel or events in the Middle East. It’s easy and probably accurate to see him as AIPAC’s on-air man at CNN. It’s also no surprise that the preponderance of guests he has on with him share his views which are clearly one-sided and strongly pro-Israel.
Blitzer, his guests and others like them can’t hide their disdain for Muslims they demean by inference as well as in language like “Islamic fundamentalists,” militants, gunmen, terrorists and “Islamo-fascists.” It’s always been part of Blitzer’s stock and trade which he clearly showed right after the high-profile Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing in April, 1995. He was quick on air to baselessly accuse Arabs (meaning Muslims) of an act of terrorism against the US even though US Army and Gulf war veteran Timothy McVeigh later was arrested, convicted and executed for the crime. That faux pas hardly mattered to Blitzer as throughout his career he’s been consistently one-sided in his reporting on the Middle East that’s never viewed Arabs, their Islamic religion or culture favorably. In fairness to Blitzer, culturally sanctioned forms of bigotry directed against Arabs and Islam have always been tolerated in the US going back decades. It’s especially evident in the media and Hollywood films where Arabs have long been the butt of language referring to them as “camel jockeys, desert warriors and terrorists.”
Post-9/11, however, that kind of characterization rose to an unrelenting Islamaphobic frenzy with the US in the vanguard of a new Western crusade against Islam though never calling it that. It’s part of the Bush Administration’s Messianic mission and need for convenient scapegoats to allow it and the interests of capital it represents free reign to pursue their quest for world dominance using preventive war and state-sponsored terrorism as the way to get it. Today that quest is centered in the Middle East and its vital oil reserves with the US and its Israeli ally jointly waging illegal wars of aggression with the aid and comfort given them by on-air empire-backing and racist flacks like Wolf Blitzer who never met a US or Israeli initiated war he didn’t love and support.
It passes without irony or notice that this kind of racist warfare happened once before 900 years ago in the First Crusade. Back then Pope Urban II (no doubt seen as a good Christian then and now) launched an earlier holy war against Islam and Muslims to regain control of the Holy Land and sacred city of Jerusalem for Christianity. When his forces entered the city, they slaughtered the Muslims, Jews and even Eastern Christians living there believing no doubt they got their marching orders to do it from the Almighty. Today, a modern-day empire is on the march, and their faithful servants like Wolf Blitzer and his on-air guests spew their message of hate and support for it to convince a naive public tuning in it’s the right thing to do, it’s spreading democracy and Western civilization, and it will make us more secure and the world a better place for everyone.
What’s Never Allowed On-Air In Contrast To What Always Is
It also passes without comment or notice that no subject is more sensitive in the West and over the corporate airwaves than any criticism of Israel. It’s never aired because the corporate media won’t allow it to be. In the US especially, it’s the metaphorical “third rail” on-air and in politics. Touch it and pay dearly – severe denunciation, labeled an anti-semite or self-hating Jew, even ostracism. Today the powerful AIPAC Jewish lobby (Blitzer’s former employer) has a lot to do with this and is part of an unholy alliance with the equally powerful Christian fundamentalists in the US and dominant neoconservatives running the Bush administration, Republican party and the country. It’s unwritten and unspoken, but their message is clear and emphatic – no criticism of Israel is ever allowed and full unconditional support and encouragement is always extended to the Jewish state no matter what it does.
Whatever action Israel takes is thus viewed through the lens of self-defense, but whenever an Arab state or group like Hezbollah or Hamas defends itself against an Israeli attack it’s called terrorism. It’s always this way even when Israel is the aggressor, which is nearly always the case, as it was on June 25 when it invaded Gaza and the West Bank (again) and attacked the Palestinians and again on July 12 when it (again) did the same thing to the Lebanese. The Bush administration, US Congress, UN, world community and dominant corporate-run media voiced their wholehearted approval and support for what Israel did on both occasions and condemned the Palestinians, Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorists. It’s impermissible to have it any other way, and it’s always that way on programs like the ones Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs host and in the language these hosts and their carefully chosen guests use.
The Dirty Business of Serving the Interests of Wealth and Power By Any Means
Since when do wars ever do anything besides cause more wars. And how do mass deaths and destruction from them or virulent racism at home supporting them do anything but anger those on the receiving end making them want to strike back in retaliation. It hardly matters in the corporate media world where TV hosts, commentators and those allowed air time with them take full advantage of their public platform to spread hate messages beneficial to those they represent and support but harm their targets and the rest of us. Program hosts like Lou Dobbs and Wolf Blitzer would never even consider the wars they feel are justly waged were and are in violation of international laws under the Hague Regulations, Geneva Conventions and UN Charter. It’s of no concern to them or any of the other on-air (or in print) US and pro-Israel flacks and propagandists that include most all high-profile TV hosts, commentators and so-called pundits. Their stock-in-trade is disinformation so viewers not on to their dirty business only get the one-sided views the more savvy among us know are false, disingenuous and harmful to those on their receiving end.
Blitzer, like Dobbs, Cafferty, other CNN regulars and the whole unhealthy array of others all over the corporate radio and TV airwaves and in print like Pat Buchanan are there to do the job they’re paid for and have shown they’re willing to sell their souls to do it. They do it so the interests of wealth and power are well served and allowed to pursue the benefits they seek by whatever means they choose to get them. In that kind of world, wars are good because they’re good for business and racism is allowed because easy to pick on scapegoats are needed, it never hurts the bottom line to demean and slander them, and it’s always OK in the empire when the targets are people of color, the poor, unwanted immigrants, and especially Muslims collectively referred to as radical Islamists, militant jihadists and Islamo-fascists. It doesn’t matter that most Muslims or people of any religious faith or race are just ordinary people like us in the West wanting to live their lives in peace and care for their families.
But the message delivered on the corporate-controlled airwaves rarely ever explains that. Alternative voices of reason and sanity are mostly shut out so the public can’t hear views denouncing wars, racist hate, religious intolerance, and the need to work together for social equity and justice for all. The public also never hears that all religious faiths range in diversity and practice from liberal to fundamentalist, and aside from a small segment of extremist outliers in them all (Christianity and Judaism included), their adherents most often express their beliefs and live their daily lives according to the core principles they all espouse of moderation, tolerance of others and non-violence.
They hear none of that in the corporate media because that kind of thinking and discussion isn’t good for business that thrives on conflict, dominance of the strong over the weak, and exploitation of the developing world and the people in it for profit. That kind of sanity and understanding also isn’t good for the highly-paid on-air empire-backing flacks like Dobbs, Cafferty, Blitzer and the rest spreading the same kind of one-sided hateful, destructive messages. Their salaries depend on how well they serve their corporate employers, the numbers of viewers and listeners they get to tune in to hear them, and the bottom line profits the media giants get from the unrelenting cultural war they wage on-air for them. Our leaders call it “Western civilization,” a corrupted notion of moral superiority that our way is best and all others are inferior to it. They want to export it to the world whether or not it wants it and at the barrel of a gun if it doesn’t. The on-air empire flacks like Lou Dobbs, Wolf Blitzer and the rest are there for one purpose – to help them do it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.