CNN is taking a lot of heat from Latino community leaders.
There are press conferences across the country today, including one in Chicago, demanding CNN drop Lou Dobbs, for his anti-immigrant rhetoric and for associating with extremist anti-immigration groups like FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
"We believe that Lou Dobbs is the number one pusher of anti-immigrant hate and that has poisoned the environment for immigration reform," said Carlos Fernandez, program manager with NALACC, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities in Chicago.
They chose today to step up the nationwide "Drop Dobbs" campaign, which I wrote a blog about a few weeks back, because tonight CNN premieres a new special called "Latino in America." It is a two-night, four-hour report by Soledad O'Brien.
"It's a good series. It's important and necessary. But four hours on the contributions Latinos have made is not enough to counteract what Dobbs is promoting," Fernandez told me.
"If CNN wants to cover Latinos, we're so ingrained in society we need to have coverage every day, not as a special or for Hispanic Heritage month," Fernandez added.
I agree with these leaders that I find Dobbs' message offensive and he has had guests on his show who associate with alleged hate groups. He has stretched the facts on immigration issues.
But if we call for Dobbs to be pulled off the air, then others could call for liberals like Rachel Maddow to be pulled off MSNBC-TV, or to censor opinion bloggers like me who advocate for immigrant rights. I honestly don't think CNN is going to take Dobbs off the air. I would be happy if they did but I don't see it happening.
I agree that CNN does need to have fair and balanced coverage. Dobbs show shouldn't be labeled as news but called a talk or opinion show.
And CNN should give a liberal journalist a talk show to present the other side of the story that Dobbs ignores. They should hire more Latino reporters and commentators. During the election, they regularly featured Latino Republicans Leslie Sanchez and Alex Castellanos. That made no sense as the majority of Latinos are Democrats.
It's right that Latino community groups criticize Dobbs. They are exercising their freedom of speech.
But it doesn't address why CNN doesn't have more coverage of the Latino community or more Latino journalists working for them. This is what really needs to change.
Clarification: This story should have noted that it was the Basta Dobbs campaign that was one of the main organizers of the press conferences.