TV Academy Honors Dobbs, Ignores His Slant on News

     Despite the fact that he has set aside most principles of journalistic balance, the National Television Academy is presenting CNN business anchor Lou Dobbs with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The Business & Media Institute has tracked Dobbss descent from journalist to unabashed advocate on everything from trade to labor issues.

     When a cable network business anchor is waving to the camera, taunting a Fortune 500 company, someones bound to notice: And by the way, I want to say hi to the Wal-Mart war room. Ron, wave into the camera. Wave into the camera. The Wal-Mart war room is here to protect the institution, that's understandable. We just want to be sure we say hi. (CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/2/2005)

     It is only appropriate to remind journalists and viewers alike that Dobbss reporting has been anything but balanced or informative. Contrary to the National Television Academys views, Dobbs no longer consistently contributes to our understanding of American economic life. Instead, hes pushed an aggressively anti-trade agenda.

     But it wasnt always the case. By any measure, Lou Dobbs has had a remarkable journalistic career. It began with a degree in economics at Harvard University and has taken him to high-level jobs at CNN and the anchors chair at a show named after him. He hosts a national radio program broadcast on more than 700 stations. Along the way, he helped engineer the formation of CNNfN and manned the anchor desk for Lou Dobbs Moneyline before leaving to organize in 1999.

     Peter Price, the President of the National Television Academy, had this to say about Dobbs: "His reporting has been remarkable for many years, especially his contributions to our understanding of corporate outsourcing of jobs, the role of global trade, the importance of space exploration and the place of the American union movement in a changing economy." A look at Dobbss broadcasts shows that statement couldnt be further from the truth.

First, lets hear Dobbs himself comment on bias:

Lou Dobbs on fair and balanced journalism:

Dobbs: (In an October 3, 2005 interview with Radio Ink) The idea that a reporter has to be fair and balanced is ridiculous. The fact is, the truth usually is not fair and it's not balanced. Truth stands by itself. And the idea that something called fair and balanced is a substitute for truth and fact is mindless nonsense that has captured much of the national media.

Reality: Dobbs is just as quick to talk out of both sides of his mouth as any other journalist. In the Lou Dobbs Money Letter, he claimed, Everybody knows how much I love business and how much faith I have in our free markets and capitalist system. America was built on this system, and it continues to make America the most business-oriented country in the world. Dobbss newsletter statement directly conflicted with what he said on his show. In June 2004, the Columbia Journalism Review did an analysis of the 14 companies recommended by his newsletter since it began in 2003. Dobbs declared these firms doing good business with good people. Out of those 14, eight appear on his CNN Web site as companies that outsource jobs, according to CJRs Zachary Roth.

Understanding of American economic life:

Dobbs: The Davis-Bacon Act, it will be back in force on the Gulf Coast next month. The White House, in a decidedly anti-middle class, anti-American worker decision to waive Davis-Bacon has decided to rescind it. Employers will once again be required to pay the prevailing wage. Fair pay for honest work. What a concept. (CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Oct. 26, 2005)

Reality: Dobbs made it no secret that he was against the suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act, a racist wage policy originally implemented to discourage the hiring of cheap minority labor from the South. Actually, paying prevailing wages is inefficient. Because the term is not specifically defined in the Act, prevailing wage is interpreted to mean union-mandated wage. Artificially high wages raise the cost of doing business and discriminate against unskilled workers yet Dobbs called that fair pay.

Understanding of corporate outsourcing of jobs:

Dobbs: Delta Airlines today became the latest carrier to outsource its maintenance work to another country. That's right, foreign citizens will soon be performing maintenance on aircraft flown in the United States by a U.S. air carrier. Delta Airlines says the move will cost as many as 2,000 Americans their jobs. (CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight, March 29, 2005)

Reality: The number of jobs outsourced in the United States pales in comparison to jobs created by the economy. According to a report by the Kansas City branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, outsourced jobs amount to just 0.1 percent of total employment. Also, the Organization for International Investment noted foreign companies have sent 5.4 million jobs to the United States. These jobs pay 31 percent more than the average salary at U.S. companies.

The role of global trade:

Dobbs: The focus of the president's four-nation tour of Asia is obviously China. The Bush administration continues to pursue a free trade policy that has opened the world's richest consumer market, the American market, to Chinese exports, and created a trade deficit this year that will likely top $200 billion. (CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Nov. 15, 2005)

Reality: Fear of the trade deficit is an outdated notion. In a Jan. 11, 2005, Center for Trade Policy Studies Free Trade Bulletin, Daniel Griswold charted the change in the trade deficit (current account balance over GDP) compared to the growth of our economy (GDP). The findings: the economy grew the most when the deficit was rapidly worsening. Likewise, the economy grew the least as the trade deficit improved. The trade deficit is NOT a cause for alarm. Importing cheaper goods from places like China and Malaysia raises the living standards in the United States and pushes down the cost of doing business, in the process creating opportunities for higher-wage and higher-skill jobs.

The place of the American union movement in a changing economy:

Dobbs: Tonight there is new evidence that U.S. corporate elitists are increasingly out of touch with and openly disdainful of their American workers. American workers, the backbone of our middle class and our nation. But corporate executives are increasingly punishing and decimating their workforce as they unfairly reward themselves. (CNN, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 10/13/2005)

Reality: For Dobbs, the term American workers usually means union workers, even though union members make up only 12 percent of the U.S. work force. An earlier BMI study discovered that out of 51 trade-related stories, 43 percent (22 stories) solicited input from one of 11 different union groups such as UNITE HERE and the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WASHTECH).

     When unions are included in reports, it is important to remember that their mainline policy is anti-free trade and anti-free market. The AFL-CIO states on its Web site that deregulation, privatization, (and) liberalization of trade and financial markets are not good for growing economies. It prefers domestic protections for existing jobs which take the form of tariffs and trade restrictions, keeping U.S. prices higher and stunting exports to other countries.

For more about Dobbss anti-free market bias, check out the BMI study Trade Secrets.