“The middle class still says generally it feels like the American Dream is a lost cause.”
Thus began the last 12 hours of CNN’s in-house PR push for Lou Dobbs’s October 18 special “War on the Middle Class.” Dobbs himself has been fond of such bleak predictions, he insisted on his September 6 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” program that the economic success for the middle class “in this country could become a relic of our past.”
“American Morning” anchor Miles O’Brien uttered the “lost cause” line as he turned to chief political correspondent William Schneider, who appeared via satellite from Kansas City, Missouri.
While both CNN journalists conceded that the economy is performing well, Schneider began his story by insisting that “many Americans feel like the man who is about to drown crossing a stream that, on the average, is three feet deep.”
“On the average the economy’s doing well,” Schneider said before complaining that didn’t apply to “people who feel themselves slipping under water.”
“There’s a lot of middle class frustration out there, and it’s focused on Washington,” Schneider concluded, standing outside a theater marquee advertising a screening of “War on the Middle Class.”
Back in the New York studio, O’Brien reminded viewers about how “at 7 eastern tonight he’ll host a town hall meeting. He’ll be looking at the war on the middle class.”
At no point, however, did O’Brien or Schneider tell viewers that Dobbs’s special, and his book by the same title, represent Dobbs’s opinion, not objective reporting.
Indeed, one of the sponsors of Dobbs’s special, the American Association of Retired Persons is a liberal public policy advocate that lobbies the government to spend more taxpayer dollars on Medicare and other social programs. The AARP also played a key role in opposing President Bush’s plans to partially privatize Social Security in 2005.