A coalition of San Antonio social justice groups Wednesday signed on to a national campaign to pressure CNN to drop Lou Dobbs, the controversial anchor of the nightly cable show “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”
While stopping short of calling for an advertiser boycott, the national campaign seeks talks with CNN about what they see as Dobbs' anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric.
With representatives of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Fuerza Unida and the William C. Velasquez Institute, among others, the coalition vowed to stand together against Dobbs until CNN responds.
CNN spokeswoman Barbara Levin said in an e-mail Wednesday the network would not comment on the “Basta Dobbs” campaign. Basta is Spanish for “enough.”
The campaign believes Dobbs, more than other cable TV figures, has stirred irrational fears and perpetuated myths that demonize Latinos and immigrants. Officials said Dobbs has played to a racist undercurrent in U.S. society that has contributed to a rise in hate crimes documented by FBI statistics.
“We already have enough violence in our country,” Fuerza Unida representative Viola Casares said in Spanish. “He's poisoning our futures. ... He should not be on the air.”
Wednesday's event was planned to coincide with the start of CNN's two-part documentary “Latino in America,” hosted by Soledad O'Brien. Like its “Black in America” series, the program explores what it means to be Latino in the United States today.
Favianna Rodriguez, co-founder of the campaign, said CNN can't have it both ways.
“The Basta Dobbs campaign is happy that CNN is airing a program with a positive representation of Latinos,” she
“Lou Dobbs is the media personality that most circulates hateful messages about Latinos on a network that purports to be the most trusted name in news,” she said.
In four weeks, the campaign has garnered more than 70,000 petitioners online, officials said, adding that supporters also can sign up via cell phone by using the words “basta” or “enough” in a text message to 30644.
The campaign cites the host's repeated airing of myths about Latinos, specifically his inaccurate reporting that a third of the nation's prison inmates are undocumented immigrants.
“I can't believe CNN is tolerating it,” said Patricia Castillo, executive director of the PEACE Initiative.
In addition to the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, other Texas groups are affiliated with the national campaign, including Acción America in Dallas, CRECEN in Houston, La Peña in Austin, No Border Wall in Brownsville and the elasquez Institute, with offices in San Antonio.