Every once in a while, something happens that renews my faith in the natural order of things. The firing of CNN’s Lou Dobbs, for instance. (Yes, I know, he “resigned” and was “let out of his contract early,” and if you believe that, there’s this bridge I can get you a good deal on.)
Sure I believe in free speech. What newspaper hack doesn’t? But even free speech has its limits. Even in America, where more crazy things get said in an hour than in any other country over a whole year.
In an environment that boasts the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and where female “talk show” hosts are chosen for the sexy way they cross and uncross their legs, Lou was… Well, let’s just say he stood out.
Lou defines the word “demagogue.” He will say anything, however unfair, however unreasonable, however… untrue, just to get attention. Here’s how he summed up his style for the New Yorker a while back:
It’s very different from any program you’ll see on TV, by intention. What you won’t see on our broadcast is “fair and balanced journalism.” You will not see “objective journalism.” The truth is not “fair and balanced.”
What Lou forgot is that the truth is not xenophobic, either. Or homophobic. Or factually inaccurate…
I have to confess that I used to watch Lou. And, although I came to think of him as “Loud” Dobbs because of his frantic style, I agreed with some of his beefs about the “corporate elite” and their government lackeys trampling the American middle class into extinction. But in the past couple of years, he got so offensive that I couldn’t stand him any longer. It got so bad that I switched to MSNBC for “Hardball” at 7 p.m.
And, increasingly, that smug, self-congratulatory and flat-out rude Chris Matthews grated on me. For one thing, he never lets anyone else complete a sentence. For another, he invites the most hair brained (or hare brained, depending on your preference) fringe politicians on his show in an attempt to make fun of them and sometimes ends up launching them as cult heroes.
So there I was at 7 p.m., with no Marlins baseball game, no golf and no tennis, faced with the choice of Dobbs or Matthews. What did I do, Lord, to deserve such punishment?
But my prayers have been answered. Thanks to a groundswell of opposition by such groups as the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Presente.org, Democracia Now, Free Press, Media Matters, National Council of La Raza, and the National Institute for Latino Policy, CNN was persuaded to jettison the 64-year-old rabble rouser.
He is “pursuing other options,” which could mean a spot on Fox News, where he would fit in just fine. Or a foray into politics. At one time, he was being touted for governor of New Jersey, but that spot was filled recently, so there won’t be a vacancy for years, but there may be other openings in the increasingly rabid Republican Party. Or he could just retire and ride his horses (groomed and fed by those “aliens” he inveighed against), eat at the finest restaurants, and collect Social Security (a “Socialist” program he despises).
And I can watch CNN at 7 p.m., secure in the knowledge that no matter what they choose as his replacement, it will have to be more tolerable than either Lou or Chris.