Thursday, November 12, 2009

CNN Shakeup

Lou Dobbs was the one remaining original anchor from CNN who had been there the entire 29 (I think?) years since its inception; having begun his roots as an economy/business reporter, and having won a Peabody award for his coverage of the 1980s stock market crash, of late he has taken a real step towards the reactionary conservative role. Particularly harsh have been his attacks on Latino-American immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, as he expresses his support for the Minutemen, a civilian vigilante 'border patrol' in many southern border states. He has also given validity to the widely-discredited 'birther' movement questioning whether or not US President Barack Obama was born inside the United States, thus bringing into question his eligibility for the office of President to begin with (such accusations stem from the fact he was born in Hawaii before it became an official state; some question the authenticity of his Hawaiian birth certificate outright).

After months of activism, particularly from the Latino community, Lou Dobbs last night announced he was leaving the CNN network effective immediately to pursue other opportunities. Some speculate he might get directly involved in political movements; more than a few suggest he's heading over to CNN's ultraconservative rival, Fox News. Only the future will show just where Mr. Dobbs is heading. But I for one am relieved it is not CNN, and here's why.

CNN has a certain legitimacy; sure, everyone makes fun of it in the big picture that it invented the 24-hour news cycle that has led to heightened awareness of trivial news; celebrity pop culture, isolated school bus crashes, etc. However, of the 24-hour cable news networks, it is the original, and the one with the most legitimacy behind it. It is 'go to' programming when big events occur - from September 11, through the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, through almost any election. It is highly impartial (the fact that Republicans accuse it of having a strong liberal bias, and Democrats, including my in-laws and husband, still feel it has a fairly clear conservative leaning, shows that obviously the editorial policy of CNN can't be pigeonholed easily), and while it was very much of the 'fall in line' variety of media outlet after 9/11 as the Bush administration used that tragedy to pursue their own agendas, it has strived very hard since then to regain its legitimacy.

They are also the home of an incredible reporting team - intelligent reporters like Anderson Cooper and Campbell Brown, legends like Wolf Blitzer and Larry King, and solid pundits of both political stripes such as Ed Rollins and Donna Brazille, Mary Matalin and the legendary political team of Paul Begala and James Carville. OK, so Candy Crowley and Dana Bash still drive me nuts sometimes, but wonderkind 40-year-old neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta and the legendary Christiane Amanpour make up for that. The one holdout, to me, to CNN's credibility was Lou Dobbs - I had developed a great respect for the direction in which the company was going, and I felt the one last step necessary was to get rid of this racist reactionary; while it sounds like the split was disappointingly (from a gossip point of view) amicable and mutual, the fact that the last real impediment to my taking CNN seriously as an objective news source has now been removed. The 7pm primetime slot occupied by Dobbs will be taken over by Sunday Morning 'State of the Union' anchor John King in the new year.

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