10/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hate in the Mainstream: SPLC Announces 'Dobbsy' Award

There was a time, not so long ago really, when the traditional media actually frowned upon lying. Public figures who prevaricated were routinely pilloried in the press.

Today... well, not so much. Reality has become, shall we say, somewhat more malleable.
Someone has to stand up and say: Enough already!

At the Southern Poverty Law Center, we've decided to launch a new award to call attention to mainstream figures -- preachers, politicians, pundits, and pedants -- who make utterly false or misleading statements that have the effect of denigrating or defaming an entire group of people.
Naturally, we're calling it the Dobbsy, in honor of CNN's Lou Dobbs.

It was Dobbs, after all, who insisted that immigrants were largely responsible for 7,000 new cases of leprosy in the U.S. over a three-year span -- when the real number of cases (no one knows how many may be related to immigrants, legal or otherwise) was about 400.

It was Dobbs who, when confronted by Lesley Stahl of CBS' 60 Minutes, insisted: "If we reported it, it's a fact." (Full disclosure: I was in that 60 Minutes piece, criticizing Dobbs for his apparent lack of interest in real facts.)

Of course, it wasn't a fact, no matter who "reported" it. And no matter how many times a falsehood is repeated -- and Dobbs repeatedly refused to withdraw his error despite being excoriated for it in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Columbia Journalism Review and any number of other serious publications -- it is still a falsehood.

We're inviting nominations from the general public for other "mainstream" figures who engage in this kind of false propagandizing and group demonization. Please visit our nomination form and provide us with nominations and any supporting evidence you may want to submit. Let's expose the liars and bring a little light, instead of heat, to the debates in the public square. Let's get back to pillorying those who really deserve it.