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I won’t have Lou Dobbs to kick around anymore

13 November 2009

Oh well.

Lou's retirement party, via Sabina (http://www.hollow-hill.com/sabina/2009/11/lou_dobbs_photoshop_du_jour.html)

I’ve mentioned the guy a total of 23 times (24 counting this one) over the  lifespan of The Mex Files.  I guess his resignation (a thinly disguised firing) at CNN IS a victory for everyone who had sane views on immigration and human rights, but — as I got more than a little snarky about with a guy who acted like even a bigger dickhead than Dobbs (if that’s possible) back in November 2007— it’s not really relevant to the Mex Files.  At least at the time, I was living in the United States, so had some interest in U.S. newscasters, and sometimes watched Lou Dobbs’ ridiculous television program, and did comment on it — much as I have commented on other badly researched, or misleading news regarding Mexico.

And, what’s the point anyway?  Dobbs is only a symptom of what’s wrong with U.S. media coverage of Latin America, not the cause of the crappy, misguided and hostile coverage the region receives.

The only time one hears about Latin America — other than in a travel section or a scholarly publication — in the U.S. media is when the issues involve narcotics, political upheaval or threaten the financial interests of the corporate owners of the U.S. media.

While lip service is sometimes paid to the United States’ drug addictions as a reason for the cartels, one would think from listening to news from the United States that the cartels are the ONLY social and political issue in Mexico.  Not hardly.   Things like genetically modified corn — courtesy of U.S. conglomerates like Monsanto, agricultural policies in the United States that have destroyed the Mexican family farm, the maquiladoras, etc… have a lot more to do with the distortions in Mexican rural employment opportunity than the U.S. drug culture.

So, Mexicans — and Central Americans — have to go to work in the United States.  Dobbs was not the only one pushing the idea that this was somehow a threat (or even a challenge) to U.S. hegemony in the Hemisphere.

And Latin Americans sometimes come up with new ways of meeting their social and political needs that aren’t those of the Untied States, and which might, conceivably threaten U.S. business interests.  You only hear that Chavez is a dictator or Correa cancelled Ecuador’s debt, or Evo Morales is a former coca farmer… and not anything about the successes their governments have had in redefining the role of the governed and the government.

When you hear anything “positive” about Latin America, its not in terms of these nations doing anything particularly right, but in terms of their adhering to Wasthington’s wishes… Mexico’s present administration continuing its fratricidal anti-narco campagin, Colombia waging war on its own people but giving Washington special rights to maintain military operations in their nation, Honduras and Haiti accepting their humiliation and quasi-occupation.

You can’t blame Lou Dobbs for that… but he was fun to kick around.  Yeah, I suppose it’s a big deal that CNN got rid of the guy, but so what?  Does that affect the way the Wall Street Journal is covering Venezuela or Honduras?  I don’t think Mary Anasasia O’Grady is going to lose her job any time soon, and her toxic reportage affects not the no nothings who watched Dobbs, but the policymakers and executives who make the decisions that actually affect Latin America.

I’m sure a lot of news writers and commentators are saying that Dobbs was an exception, but even “progressive” writers have begun with the assumption that there is something “wrong” with the way things are done in Latin America, and need “fixed” by the United States.  While Lou Dobbs’ use of neo-nazi source material in one broadcast was shocking, it was no more a manifestation of American Exceptionalism than was John Arivosis´contention in “Americablog” that the Honduran coup was justified to prevent “another Chavez”.  As opposed, to say, another Pinochet?  Or, rather, another Alvaro Uribe?

As it is, Dobbs was just the most visibly bad of U.S. reporters on Latin American and Latino issues.  What he said wasn’t all that relevant to Latin American politics and culture and the dialog will continue without him, but with the same  misinterpretations, misreportings, misreadings and conscious distortions by the U.S. media as before.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 November 2009 1:59 pm

    Lou Dobbs: One down, umpteen hundred and umpty-ump to go. He was the biggest, loudest and most blatantly odious. But he was only the first.

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