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August 27, 2014

TV Moment of 2009: Lou Dobbs Quits CNN

by Leonard Jacobs, posted Dec 23rd 2009 9:53AM
In a statement published in the New York Times following his sudden Nov. 11 announcement that he'd leave CNN immediately, Lou Dobbs blamed the country's changing political direction for forcing his hand. "Over the past six months," he said, "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."

Yet the events that led to Dobbs' abrupt departure were months, even years, in the making.In a statement published in the New York Times following his sudden Nov. 11 announcement that he'd leave CNN immediately, Lou Dobbs blamed the country's changing political direction for forcing his hand. "Over the past six months," he said, "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."

Yet the events that led to Dobbs' abrupt departure were months, even years, in the making.

When Dobbs returned to CNN in 2001 -- he'd left in 1999 after clashing with Rick Kaplan, then president of the network -- the reigning idea was simple: let Lou be Lou. A fiscal conservative and respected broadcaster, he'd long shown the ability to explore various political views within a news-reporting context.

Indeed, as the '00s went on, Dobbs largely proved his willingness to attack the Bush Administration for its faults but equally criticize the opposing Democrats. 'Lou Dobbs Tonight' took on the seamier side of corporate America, gaining credence in certain quarters for proudly defending the American worker.

But part of Dobbs' rhetoric began to overshadow the rest, including his hostility toward illegal immigration. By the time President Obama took office last January, Dobbs, according to his critics, was becoming shrill. By July, an internal CNN memo formally rebuked Dobbs' alliance with the "birther" movement, which maintains (despite contrary evidence) that Obama's birth certificate is fake. Dobbs arranged for two newscasts to originate at a conference of the Federation for American Immigration Reform -- an anti-illegal immigration group whose leader is accused of racist language.

Then, in October, someone took a shot at Dobbs while he and his wife were standing outside of their New Jersey home.

Within two weeks, he left the show, and was replaced by longtime CNN reporter John King.

In the short period since his departure, Dobbs' future has been subject to much speculation. First, he went on Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox to acknowledge that he himself was a factor in his own situation. Then he confirmed that a career in politics might in the cards. Presumably, we will learn more details in the coming year.

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