03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

To Bill O'Reilly: You Lose Dobbs Bet

To: Bill O'Reilly
The O'Reilly Factor
Fox News Network

Dear Bill,

You lost the bet. Time to pay up!

When I appeared on your show in July, you were so certain that the Southern Poverty Law Center's call for CNN to fire Lou Dobbs was a waste of time that you bet $10,000 (with the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity) that it wouldn't happen.

"CNN's never going to fire him -- you know that," you said.

I told you that I disagreed, because I wasn't as cynical as you. I believed that if enough people spoke out -- and they did -- that CNN would do the right thing.

I expect you will argue that Lou didn't get fired -- that he got fed up and quit the network he had been with for three decades.

But as a litigator, I'd like to present Exhibit A: Dobbs' $8 million severance package, which was reported today by the New York Post. I think you'll agree that Mr. Murdoch's Post would never report such a thing were it not, indeed, a fact.

And would CNN fork over $8 million -- enough money to pay for 13 miles of electric border fence -- to an employee who simply wanted to walk away from his multimillion-dollar contract because he couldn't constrain his opinions on a news show?

I doubt it.

Maybe your fall-back position is that it wasn't a real bet. I don't know. But I think that if you'll stop spinning for a moment, you'll agree that in the court of public opinion, you lose. I know it hurts deeply to be wrong. (Although Lou won't admit it, it happens to the best of us). You can be assured that your loss will be a big win for a family in need of housing.

CNN did the right thing. Now it's your turn.

Sincerely yours,

J. Richard Cohen