Hispanic Congressmembers Go After CNN Over Lou Dobbs

The Raw Story
John Byrne
April 28, 2008

China isn't the only one mad at CNN.

Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a coalition of 21 Latino congressmembers, dispatched a letter Friday to Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes complaining that the network's news coverage is slanted against immigration and has adopted the rhetoric of outspoken CNN host Lou Dobbs.

CHC Chairman Joe Baca (D-CA) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) expressed outrage that their appeals to meet privately with CNN have gone ignored, and that their letter to Time Warner's CEO have instead ended up on the desk of CNN's president.

“We are deeply offended that you did not take the time or effort to respond to a request from twenty Members of the United States House of Representatives and a United States Senator, but instead simply passed the letter along to Mr. Walton,” the lawmakers wrote, according to an article Monday in Roll Call. “It is additionally offensive that you did so on a topic as important and sensitive as your company’s treatment and portrayal of Latinos in this country.”

Time Warner did not return inquiries from the paper Friday; CNN did not speak for attribution. CNN was attacked recently for a comment made by host Jack Cafferty, who compared China's leadership with "thugs and goons."

CNN president Jim Walton wrote the caucus back Apr. 23, saying Time Warner's CEO would not be able to answer their appeals.

“As a matter of long-standing policy, Time Warner’s corporate management never interferes with the editorial decision-making of its news operations,” Walton penned.

Walton offered to meet with the lawmakers as well as any Congressional Hispanic congressmember -- but the caucus isn't happy Time Warner's CEO won't reply.

“It really is a slap in the face, that as many members as there are in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, in the House and the Senate, that we don’t get a direct response,” Menendez said.

Adds Roll Call:
According to Menendez, many of CNN’s news programs have adopted “the language Lou Dobbs uses,” referring to the host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” who uses the platform to complain about illegal immigration.

“The news program has become the equivalent of opinion and not information,” Menendez said, asserting that news anchors opt for language describing “hordes” of immigrants crossing borders, and use phrases such as “illegal” rather than “undocumented” when describing such immigrants.1
Baca told the paper a meeting with Walton several weeks ago went well. He suggested the network provide another show to counterbalance Dobbs.

“It was a very positive meeting," Baca said. "I said look, there’s a lot of good programs that CNN puts on, and we watch a lot of it. We’re only talking about a specific individual. The other programs are pretty good in terms of the news that they bring out."

1. Jennife Yachnin. "CHC Emboldened, Targets Lou Dobbs." Roll Call, April 28, 2008

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund