Last night I attended the advance screening and panel session of Latino in America a CNN produced series that will be airing tomorrow October 21 and 22nd.
“By 2050, the U.S. Latino population is expected to nearly triple. This October, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien explores how Latinos are reshaping our communities and culture and forcing a nation of immigrants to rediscover what it means to be an American,” is the statement on CNN’s website to entice potential viewers. CNN has been working hard to market this four hour series by hosting advance screening parties across the nation. It’s obvious that the series is a serious effort to capture a larger share of the Hispanic market.
Despite their efforts, CNN which pledges itself as the ‘most trusted name in news’ is also the home of Lou Dobbs one of the most vitriolic anti immigrant voices in the media. Presente.org a national online advocacy organization has been running a very strong campaign to highlight the blatant lies Lou Dobbs spreads on his program. He has claimed that “Just about a third of our prison system is made up of illegal aliens.” But the Department of Justice reports that immigrants (legal and illegal) make just 6% of the prison population.
After the screening there was a panel discussion led by CNN en Espanol’s anchor Gabriela Frias and a Q & A session with the audience. The panelists included a reporter from the San Jose Mercury Newspaper, one of the reporters who put together the series and retired Senator Art Torres. One of the more interesting questions asked, was about the hypocrisy of CNN promoting Latino in America while simultaneously hosting Lou Dobbs. Ms. Frias and the reporter from the series sidestepped the issue by responding that their job was to get good stories out and that Latinos in America have to be heard but they suggested contacting the powers that be of CNN to make the questioners view point’s heard. Sen. Art Torres responded that he felt Dobbs’ view points had marginalized him.
I asked the panel what they thought about the current California water policy issues and how Glen Beck and the Republican Party were using the Central Valley Latino community for their astroturf campaign. Sen. Torres said that
If they (the Republican Party) thought the Latino community was that stupid then they were in for a rude awakening akin to ‘Pee Wee Wilson’ and his disastrous Prop 187 campaign.
I was happy to hear Sen. Torres say this because that particular fight put many Latino boots on the ground in California for the Democratic Party. It was during the Prop 187 and 209 campaigns that I myself became more politically active and I see that time period as a defining point in my life for the path that I would eventually follow working full time in politics. As the Comprehensive Immigration Reform issue comes up in Congress it will be interesting to see if CNN ultimately chooses Lou Dobbs and his hate speech or Latinos in America. America’s Voice and Media Matters planned to run an ad targeting Dobbs during the broadcast of Latino in America, but CNN refused to air it.
America’s Voice says it plans to run the ad on a competing network.