Lou Dobbs is under siege, taking to news shows ranging from Good Morning America to MSNBC’s new The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to defend himself against a cover story in the current issue of The Nation that alleges he has hired illegal immigrants.
Briefly stated, the charges are summarized by The Nation’s headline: “American Hypocrite.” Reporter Isabel McDonald contends that the man who has inveighed against “illegals” and called for federal prosecution of those who hire them, has undocumented workers to care for the animals on his Sussex, New Jersey horse farm and to care for the landscaping of his West Palm Beach estate. The article contends that Dobbs’ contractor made the hires.
It’s a long, interesting piece — you can read it here — with many allegations including poor housing conditions for the illegal immigrants under Dobbs’ employ.
On GMA this morning, Dobbs dubbed The Nation story a “smear piece” and that if he’d asked about the workers, he’d have been guilty of “racial profiling.”
Dobbs asserted on GMA that the “mainstream media” has accepted The Nation story at face-value and that only CBS news had called him for a response before now. I’ve often said that the crucial failure of network news in particular is that it doesn’t break news, doesn’t expend the time and money to do nearly original investigative reporting.
That’s not really the job of Good Morning America, of course — it may be produced by ABC’s news division, but its mix of news, entertainment, and lifestyle stories is not, by any realistic standard, the place where hard-news reporting gets done: GMA‘s unstated mission is to summarize and react, and the Robin Roberts interview, by giving The Nation and Dobbs a platform to confront each other, was a solid segment. I wouldn’t let ABC’s nighttime newscasts (World News and Nightline) off the same hook, however.
Meanwhile, over on MSNBC, Dobbs made an appearance in a lively segment on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, splitting hairs about whether or not he’s responsible for whether or not his contractor hired illegal immigrants. Here’s the first segment:
Reporter McDonald ends up saying that Dobbs is “a victim of his own unrealistic rhetoric” about crackdowns on Americans who hire undocumented workers.
Once again, TV news shows may fail to do the grunt-work, but it provides the stage and the drama for the debate.