The Times used some of its valuable editorial page space on Friday to kick departing CNN anchor Lou Dobbs for his anti-illegal immigration views in "A Farewell to Lou." Along the way the Times attacked "right-wing ranters" and in a bracing shot of collegiate lefty rhetoric, he defended illegals being "exploited by greedy corporate interests."
Mr. Dobbs, once a pinstriped purveyor of financial news, has burrowed deep into the popular culture as a self-styled populist enraged by illegal immigration. When he resigned on the air Wednesday night, he made it clear that that aspect of his public persona is not going away. He listed immigration along with jobs, the middle class and war as among the issues urgently needing his kind of honest, straightforward examination.
"Unfortunately," he said, "these issues are now defined in the public arena by partisanship and ideology rather than by rigorous, empirical thought and forthright analysis and discussion."
Mr. Dobbs couldn't have phrased a more apt criticism of himself. He calls himself Mr. Independent, but he is far closer in style and method to the right-wing ranters who mold the facts to shape the argument on television and on AM radio, where Mr. Dobbs still has a show. Mr. Dobbs's CNN program has long been a nesting ground for untruths and conspiracy theories: fretting over a nonexistent, immigrant-borne leprosy epidemic; questioning President Obama's citizenship; issuing dark warnings about the "North American Union," a supposed plot to strangle United States sovereignty.
Proving that immigration really riles the Times, it departed from its sober liberal editorial tone and unleashed a rant about "greedy corporate interests" worthy of a high school newspaper:
Now Mr. Dobbs has pledged to "engage in constructive problem solving." Here is a problem to solve constructively: Illegal immigrants are, as Mr. Dobbs likes to say, decent, honest, hard-working people. They are exploited by greedy corporate interests. They are not about to deport themselves, and we aren't about to deport them all.