Wednesday show was his last; he doesn’t reveal future plans
By Brian Stelter and Bill Carter
updated 5:28 p.m. PT, Wed., Nov . 11, 2009
Lou Dobbs, the longtime CNN anchor whose anti-immigration views have made him a TV lightning rod, said Wednesday that he is leaving the cable news channel effective immediately.
Sitting before an image of an American flag on his television set, he said “some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day.”
“I’m considering a number of options and directions,” Mr. Dobbs added. A transcript of his remarks is available below or you can click HERE.
Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN/U.S. said in a statement that “Lou has now decided to carry the banner of advocacy journalism elsewhere.”
“All of us will miss his appetite for big ideas, the megawatt smile and larger than life presence he brought to our newsroom,” Mr. Klein said.
Wednesday’s program will be Mr. Dobbs’ last on CNN. His contract was not set to expire until the end of 2011. He told viewers that CNN had agreed to release him from his contract early. No replacement has been named.
Mr. Dobbs informed his staff members of his intentions in a meeting Wednesday afternoon, catching some of the staffers off-guard.
Well known for his political positions, Mr. Dobbs is an outlier at CNN, which has sought to position itself as a middle ground of sorts in the fractious cable news arena. The CNN employees said Wednesday that they did not know if Mr. Dobbs was moving to another network.
Mr. Dobbs met with Roger Ailes, the chairman of the Fox News Channel, in September. At the time Mr. Dobbs was viewed as a potential hire for the Fox Business Network. But a Fox spokesperson said Wednesday, “We have not had any discussions with Lou Dobbs for Fox News or Fox Business.”
Mr. Dobbs has been with CNN since its founding, save for a two-year stint at a Web site called Space.com. He has evolved over the years from a straight-laced business anchor to an outspoken commentator who rails against illegal immigration and taxpayer bailouts, among other subjects.
Lately, though, he has saved most of his opinions for his afternoon radio show, which made its debut in March 2008. It is on the radio show that he talked repeatedly about the conspiracy theory claims that President Obama is not a United States citizen. When he mentioned the citizenship issue on CNN over the summer, his bosses were forced to call it a “dead issue.”
More recently, Mr. Dobbs’ views on immigration provoked a protest by Hispanic groups. Members of the groups complained that CNN was allowing Mr. Dobbs “to spread lies and misinformation about us each night.”
John King to replace Dobbs
Wednesday evening, the advocacy group Presente.org, which had called on CNN to fire Mr. Dobbs, declared a “victory.”
“Our contention all along was that Lou Dobbs — who has a long record of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about immigrants and Latinos — does not belong on the ‘most trusted name in news,’” Roberto Lovato, a co-founder of Presente.org, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has this legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate.”
Last month the New Jersey State Police were called to Mr. Dobbs home to investigate a report of gunfire. Mr. Dobbs suggested that his family had been singled out because of his views on illegal immigration and border security.
Dobbs Explains Decision to Leave CNN
By BRIAN STELTER
The text of Mr. Dobbs’ announcement about leaving CNN:
This will be my last broadcast here on CNN, where I’ve worked for most of the past 30 years, and where I have many friends and colleagues whom I admire deeply and respect greatly.
I’m the last of the original anchors here on CNN and I’m proud to have had the privilege to helping to build the world’s first news network.
I’m grateful for the many opportunities that CNN has given me over these many years. I’ve tried to reciprocate with a full measure of my ability and my energy.
Over the past six months it’s become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us, and some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day. And to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible.
I’ve talked extensively with Jonathan Klein — Jon’s the president of CNN — and as a result of those talks, Jon and i have agreed to a release from my contract that will enable me to pursue new opportunities.
At this point, I’m considering a number of options and directions, and I assure you, I will let you know when I set my course. I truly believe that the major issues of our time include the growth of our middle class, the creation of more jobs, health care, immigration policy, the environment, climate change, and our military involvement, of course, in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But each of those issues is, in my opinion, informed by our capacity to demonstrate strong resilience of our now weakened capitalist economy and demonstrate the political will to overcome the lack of true representation in Washington, D.C.
I believe these to be profoundly, critically important issues, and I will continue to strive to deal honestly and straightforwardly with those issues in the future.
Unfortunately, these issues are now defined in the public arena by partisanship and ideology rather than by rigorous, empirical thought and forthright analysis and discussion. I’ll be working diligently to change that as best I can. And as for the important work of restoring inspiration to our great free society and our market economy, I will strive as well to be a leader in that national conversation.
It’s been my great honor to work with each and every person at this wonderful network. I will be eternally grateful to CNN, to Ted Turner, and to all of my colleagues and friends, and of course to you at home. I thank you, and may God bless you.
Mr. Dobbs then went to a commercial break.
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