CNN’s Lou Dobbs, a lightning rod for criticism following his transition from a business journalist to an opinionated anchor on such issues as illegal immigration, told viewers on Wednesday that he was quitting his nightly show to pursue new opportunities. “This will be my last broadcast,” Dobbs said after giving the day’s headlines. Dobbs, who hosts a daily radio show unrelated to CNN, said the network had allowed him to be released early from his contract.
Dobbs said his world view changed after the 2001 terrorist attacks and corporate corruption scandals, and he began to more freely express his opinions. He was particularly persistent in bringing the immigration issue to the fore, winning him both higher ratings and enemies. Latino groups had an active petition drive seeking his removal.
His presence became awkward for CNN, particularly as it began emphasizing reporting and non-opinion shows. He angered management this summer by pressing questions about President Barack Obama’s birth site after CNN reporters determined there was no issue.
Dobbs said the decision came after months of discussion with CNN U.S. President Jon Klein. Dobbs said he wanted to concentrate on his role as a commentator and on advocacy journalism.
“With characteristic forthrightness, Lou has now decided to carry the banner of advocacy journalism elsewhere,” Klein said. “We respect his decision.”
“Our contention all along was that Lou Dobbs – who has a long history of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about immigrants and Latinos – does not belong on the most trusted name in news,” said Roberto Lovato, co-founder of Presente.org. “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has the legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate.”
Tom Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the leading Latino legal organization, said, “The Latino community can and should celebrate that Lou Dobbs is no longer on CNN.”
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from Dobbs’ home state of New Jersey and the Senate’s only Hispanic member, called it “addition by subtraction” for CNN.