CNN star Lou Dobbs signed off last night and announced that he is leaving the cable-news giant CNN. Dobbs will be leaving the network “immediately” after spending 27 years at CNN. His tenure was not without controversy. His views on U.S. immigration and Obama’s birth certificate made him a controversial figure. His nightly news and commentary show was one of the highest rated shows on CNN though his viewership was on decline. Dobbs is reportedly leaving “to contribute positively to the understanding of the great issues of our day … in the most honest and direct language possible.”
A source within CNN told Reuters that Dobbs will focus on his syndicated radio show, The Lou Dobbs Show, though the host publicly stated that he intended to explore “a number of options and directions.” The source would not confirm a New York Times report that he had met with Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive of the Fox News channel, the leading cable news heavyweight and arch-rival to CNN.
CNN, once the leader in cable news, fell to fourth place last month among the 24-hour news channels in prime-time audience ratings.
“For decades, Lou fearlessly and tirelessly pursued some of the most important and complex stories of our time, often well ahead of the pack,” said Jonathan Klein, president of CNN. “All of us will miss his appetite for big ideas, the megawatt smile and larger-than-life presence he brought to our newsroom.”
Latino and civil rights groups hailed Dobb’s move. “It’s about time. He was doing CNN no good,” said Nativo Lopez, head of the California-based Mexican-American Political Association that promotes the interests of Mexican-Americans in the United States and is part of a campaign against Dobbs. “His is not a debate based on science or reason, it’s based on prejudice, it’s based on racial overtones, it’s based on profiling and an obsessive fixation on immigrants from Mexico,” said Lopez.
“For the past six months it has become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us,” says Dobbs. “Some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and engage in constructive problem-solving.”
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