Accuracy in Media

Sunday night’s “60 Minutes” on CBS featured a story about CNN’s Lou Dobbs that strangely included the comments of a monitor of “hate groups.” The implication was that there might be something hateful about Dobbs’ opposition to illegal immigration and open borders. Dobbs may not know it yet, but he is being set up as the next Don Imus.

While the story showed reporter Lesley Stahl exchanging pleasantries with Dobbs and interviewing him and his wife, the inclusion of Dobbs critic Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center was ominous. It is an indication that certain political views, mostly of a conservative nature, are being put into the same category as the Don Imus racist joke that got him fired from CBS Radio and MSNBC. The threat of political censorship in America has never been more real than it is today. And Dobbs isn’t the only target.

Potok, “who monitors hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center,” as Stahl put it, was presented as some kind of authority on what people can say―and how they should say it―on the air. It is shocking that a news broadcast like “60 Minutes” would play a role in an emerging campaign to criminalize and censor what other journalists say on the air. But liberals seem only to want free speech for themselves. Ironically, to her apparent dismay, Lesley Stahl reported at the end of the report that Dobbs had just been hired by CBS News as a television commentator for “The Early Show.” She said she didn’t know this when filming her piece on Dobbs. The use of Mark Potok on “60 Minutes” may have been a warning to Dobbs to tone down his anti-illegal immigration views.

Potok made the claim on “60 Minutes” that Dobbs was a fear monger and that “The impression you get [from watching his CNN program,] pretty strongly I think, day after day, is that sort of all 11 million illegal aliens are bringing leprosy, they’re bringing crime, they’re bringing all these terrible things to the United States.”

Potok said that Dobbs’ comments gives people “the go-ahead to say that, you know, ‘These are a group of rapists and disease-carrying people who are coming to, you know, essentially destroy the culture of this country.’”

Stahl quibbled with Dobbs about a claim that immigrants were responsible for bringing leprosy into the U.S., but the issue wasn’t really whether he got a fact right or wrong or even whether he was an “advocacy journalist.” The clear implication was that Dobbs was somehow encouraging hatred or violence against illegal aliens and was therefore guilty of “hate speech.” Potok served no other purpose than to imply that Dobbs was a Don Imus-type character, not worthy of being given air-time.

The “60 Minutes” piece, interestingly enough, aired just days after the so-called “hate crimes” bill passed the House of Representatives on May 3 by a vote of 237-180. This legislation attempts to criminalize what people think and say, rather than what they do. What’s more, it helps lay the groundwork for a federal Fairness Doctrine to authorize bureaucrats to dictate what can and cannot be said on the air. Indeed, the “hate crimes” legislation, from the liberal point of view, may be a necessary precursor to bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which supported the “hate crimes” bill, is so extreme that it lists the conservative Christian Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), a coalition of churches, on a map of “hate groups” because of its opposition to special rights for homosexuals. The TVC is listed on the same page with the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam.

Potok’s latest hysterical article insists that “untold numbers of men and women may have to die” because of criticism of the homosexual lifestyle by conservative Christians, labeled “religious zealots” who employ “the language of hate” and are behind “hate motivated violence.”

With this kind of incendiary rhetoric as a backdrop, and with “hate crimes” legislation in place, one can foresee the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under President Hillary Clinton, deciding that “hate crimes” in real life are provoked by conservative hosts or guests on radio and TV. On that basis, therefore, the conservatives have to be taken off the air or else greatly restricted in what they are allowed to say. Don’t forget that then-President Bill Clinton tried to blame “hate radio” for the Oklahoma City bombing.

Also remember that, before Imus was canned, a radical Muslim group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), forced the firing of Michael Graham at WMAL in Washington, D.C., after he described Islam as a violent-oriented religion. (Graham now broadcasts on Boston’s WTKK-FM).

Other targets include Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. Limbaugh is under attack by Media Matters, the group that started the get-Imus campaign, for airing a Paul Shanklin routine making fun of Barack Obama and Al Sharpton. The parody is called “Barack, the Magic Negro.” The term, “Magic Negro,” was borrowed from a Los Angeles Times article about blacks who appeal to whites.

Savage is being attacked for alleged racist, sexist, “homophobic” and anti-Muslim remarks by a San Francisco community activist, Steve Zeltzer, and a few of his friends, including somebody from “Banjos for Justice,” who turned out for a puny demonstration to demand that the talk-show host be taken off the air. A short piece about the protest declared that Savage “needs his mouth washed out with soap and water and then run out of town.”

An article about the demonstration was headlined, “First Imus, Now Savage?” and quoted Zeltzer as saying, “We support the First Amendment but we don’t support the public airways being used in this manner.” He was identified as hosting his own cable access program.

This is interesting. He has his own show on a public access channel, probably paid for by the taxpayers or the cable company, and yet he wants Savage off the air. This is typical of the left-wing mindset. Zeltzer says that the stations carrying Savage should be “turned over to people in the community.” By that, he presumably means himself and his friends.

One protester was quoted as saying, “I no longer go out at night. How dare they profit off of queer-bashing. Is this for real? I thought we had hate-crime laws in San Francisco.”

This is an admission that “hate crimes” laws can be used to silence those on the air who have politically incorrect or non-liberal views. But if “hate crimes” laws will not suffice for the purpose of driving people like Savage “out of town,” the liberals will use the Fairness Doctrine to mute or muzzle their political enemies. Even without these laws, the Imus affair shows how they are capable of ginning up propaganda to force somebody off the air.

But isn’t it interesting that the backers of the “hate crimes” bill include all of the major sponsors of the legislation to bring back the Fairness Doctrine? Of course, a Democratic president would mean that a majority of FCC commissioners would be liberals predisposed to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. Three of those five FCC commissioners could do so on their own, even without a vote of Congress.

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