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What’s Dobbs’ Standing at CNN?

Lou Dobbs.jpgThe AP recap of the Lou Dobbs controversy surrounding the “birther” movement asks the simple question many of you have asked: “How does Lou Dobbs keep his job?”

As we were first to report, CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein sent a memo to the Dobbs staff addressing the “birthers” coverage, writing “It seems this story is dead.” Dobbs scaled back his coverage of the topic on the CNN program—all while his ratings were declining—only to pick it up on his radio show, forcing Klein to again defend the network. Ire about the issue and Dobbs’ handling of it has led to a Media Matters ad blasting Dobbs via a commercial that could air during “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” While most of the country has no doubts about it, there are surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) still some significant populations that believe Pres. Obama was not born in the United States or are unsure. (by the way, Dobbs believes he was)

So where does this leave Dobbs? The AP explains:

[Klein] suggested Dobbs’ CNN work is unfairly lumped in with his unrelated radio show, and that he’s judged on the show he did a couple of years ago, when Dobbs became a political target for his campaigning against illegal immigration.

The two men sat down after last year’s election to make changes, aware that the anti-immigrant Dobbs’ image ran counter to the brand CNN was trying to create. CNN calls itself the network of unbiased reporting compared to conservative commentators on Fox and liberal ones at MSNBC.

Since then, Dobbs has been doing a relatively straight newscast, Klein said.

“He brings more than three decades of experience reporting and broadcasting the news,” Klein said, “and that’s very valuable to a news network.”

Not only that, but Dobbs has been a CNN mainstay for years, something no one is quick to ignore:

Except for a two-year break a decade ago, he’s been with CNN virtually from the network’s beginning. Much of that time was spent anchoring a business newscast that made him hugely influential in the business community and immensely valuable to CNN. Old-timers say the desire of advertisers to be connected with Dobbs and Larry King essentially funded the network for years.

There’s also another issue here, might CNN simply fear having a figure like Dobbs leave the network? After all, it’s not like he would simply disappear:

With Dobbs hosting his own weekday radio show, the thought of him launching anti-CNN missiles every day has to be disconcerting.

It’s also not hard to imagine Fox News chief Roger Ailes coveting Dobbs as a prize for his struggling business news network, offering reports to the main news channel as well.

We agree.

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