The Huffpo's lead today is about the Lou Dobbs "birther" controversy, and there are no less than 5 other headlines on the front page regarding the matter.
Having had some experience with Mr. Dobbs, I thought I might add some context to the matter. By the way, I have no dog in the "birther" hunt. I'm a little bit more concerned about the fact that we are circling the depressionary drain.
I first encountered Lou at CNN 26 years ago when I worked there in master control. I was a student at Georgia Tech at the time, and since I was majoring in Industrial Management, I asked about transferring over to work on Lou's Moneyline show, because I wanted to learn more about business. I was warned by several people not to do so, because in the words of my boss Jack Ormond, "if you work for Lou, you damn well better make sure all your facts are correct."
I changed my mind.
Flash forward to 2005, during the middle of the Walmart wars. Lou had Robert Greenwald on to discuss his anti-Walmart film The High Cost Of Low Price. I got a call from the CNN bookers that Lou wanted me to appear on his show in order to give the pro-Walmart viewpoint. I was not very good at live TV at the time (as evidenced by my yelling "Boo!" on Halloween night during an interview on Showbiz Today) but they were insistent, and rather than doing a remote from Atlanta, they flew me to New York for an in-studio so that I could have the same treatment as Mr. Greenwald.
About 10 minutes before the broadcast Lou walked into the green room and said "I really can't stand Walmart or Lee Scott, but to be professional, we're going to let you present your side of the story. However, I'm going to be pretty hard on you in front of millions of people."
I said okay and promptly excused myself to go throw up. I survived the live interview, and happily I've never had stage fright since.
My point is Lou Dobbs went way out of his way to make sure that he presented both sides of the story. He didn't have to (or want to), but his professional code insisted he should. It sounds very 8-track, but some still view journalism as a calling, not just a means to speaking gigs.
During this period I appeared on many of the major media outlets, but of all of them, Lou Dobbs operation at CNN was the most professional and fair. Ironically, the "fair and balanced" Fox News refused to have me on. Well, I do have a face for radio, and we know Fox likes them "purty."
Lou Dobbs is taking a lot of grief for essentially repeating the same professional behavior he exhibited towards me a few years ago. His journalistic methods have not changed from 3 years ago, or 26 years ago in Atlanta. He is trying to be fair on a very difficult subject, one that is clearly distasteful to him. He's clearly not doing it for the ratings, as his have fallen during this tempest.
Lou has been the big guy on campus at CNN for many years and is a friend of Ted, which is why a lot of the fire directed at him is internal to CNN, from young Turks who envy his status (and time slot). He has become a straw man proxy for the birthers, and a target for many who resent his stance on illegal immigration. He doesn't deserve it. He's simply being thorough and professional, which is why he's lasted so long in a serpentine business that revels in eating its own tail.