Times Just Can't Stand Lou Dobbs' Stand on Illegal Immigration

Monday's lead editorial, "Ain't That America," found the Times again engaged in highly selective media criticism, taking yet another crack at CNN anchor Lou Dobbs (the lastattack coming just one week ago).

Judging by the paper's obsession with Dobbs' fierce opposition to illegal immigration, one would think the host of "Lou Dobbs Tonight" was the only mainstream anchor or reporter ever to voice an opinion during a newscast. (The evidence suggests otherwise.) Dobbs' brand of populism makes him reliably conservative on one issue - illegal immigration. Dan Rather's career-killing anti-Bush jihad? Ho-hum. But one voice on one issue who is out of step with the liberal pack? That sends the Times into histrionic overload.

"Think of America's greatest historical shames. Most have involved the singling out of groups of people for abuse. Name a distinguishing feature - skin color, religion, nationality, language - and it's likely that people here have suffered unjustly for it, either through the freelance hatred of citizens or as a matter of official government policy.


"The evidence can be seen in any state or town that has passed constitutionally dubious laws to deny undocumented immigrants the basics of living, like housing or the right to gather or to seek work. It's in hot lines for citizens to turn in neighbors. It's on talk radio and blogs. It's on the campaign trail, where candidates are pressed to disown moderate positions. And it can be heard nearly every night on CNN, in the nativist drumming of Lou Dobbs, for whom immigration is an obsessive cause.

"In New York, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed allowing illegal immigrants to earn driver's licenses. It is a good, practical idea, designed to replace anonymous drivers with registered competent ones. In show after show, Mr. Dobbs has trained his biggest guns on Mr. Spitzer, branding him with puerile epithets like 'spoiled, rich-kid brat' and depicting his policy as some sort of sanctuary program for the 9/11 hijackers. Someday there may be a calm debate, in Albany and nationally, about immigrant drivers. But with Mr. Dobbs at the megaphone, for now there is only histrionics and outrage."