June 6, 2008

The Hispanic Institute Proposes CNN Boycott;

Cites Lou Dobbs’ Anti-Immigration Crusade

The Hispanic Institute today announced that it will mount a Latino boycott of CNN to protest the cable news network’s ongoing distortion of facts surrounding U.S. immigration issues, especially in commentaries and reports on “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

The nonprofit organization said the proposed boycott will begin today June 3, 2008 and will seek to stop Hispanic viewership of all CNN outlets, including the Spanish language service. There are now 12.14 million Hispanic television households in the U.S., according to Doug Darfield, Sr. Vice President of multicultural measurement for The Nielsen Company.

“We’re taking this step after years of CNN management’s failure to rein in Mr. Dobbs’s irresponsible assertions about immigrants and their impact on our country and its institutions,” Gus West, THI board chair, said in making the announcement. He added that THI will work with other national Hispanic organizations to broaden support for the proposed boycott.

West noted that THI called for censure of Dobbs two years ago, following three years of inflammatory on-air rhetoric about undocumented immigrants. “The lack of any meaningful response from CNN’s management, or any abatement of Mr. Dobbs’ offensive tirades, makes it clear to us that the company supports his misleading and often inaccurate positions,” he said.

The large and growing U.S. Hispanic population represents a significant television market, West said, one that CNN can ill afford to ignore. “The State of the Media 2008,” published by The Project for Excellence in Journalism, noted that Latino purchasing power was $850 billion in 2007, and, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, total TV advertising dollars spent to reach Hispanics in 2006 was more than $3 billion.

“We will mobilize this important market segment to make our strong convictions heard,” West said, adding that THI is not alone in its criticism of Dobbs. In “Fear & Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News,” an extensive new study published May 21, the Washington-based Media Matters Action Network reported that cable news program hosts Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel and Glenn Beck of CNN-Headline News “serve up a steady diet of fear, anger and resentment on the topic of illegal immigration.”

However, Dobbs was singled out by the Media Matters study as “one of the most obsessed with the topic.” The study added that the “Lou Dobbs Tonight” program “might be more properly called ‘Lou Dobbs Crusades Against Illegal Immigration Tonight.’”

It is clear to THI, West said, that a boycott is “the appropriate vehicle to address CNN’s obvious disregard for the concerns of Latino viewers and all others who value factual, responsible news and information.”

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