CNN, under increasing pressure to reign in announcer Lou Dobbs’ questioning of President Obama citizenship, pressured cable outlets to not run a Media Matters commercial critical of the news anchor’s antics. Tuesday, the news corporation itself refused to air the commercial.  

According to the New York Times, the commercial is being shown on MSNBC and Fox News, but not CNN: “CNN has worked with the cable operators that carry its channel to block the commercial, which was produced by the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters. According to a CNN employee who requested anonymity, CNN managers said in a morning staff meeting that the channel had invoked unspecified agreements with operators to stop the ad from running.” 

Media Matters had purchased a week of air time combating the “birther” conspiracy theories alleging President Obama is not an American. The commercial was to be aired in New York, Washington and Atlanta in the afternoon and during Dobbs’ evening broadcast. 

Many acknowledge the birth certificate charges Dobbs has given an airing to are racially motivated. In a press release Media Matters wrote: “CNN’s Roland Martin said that the real question birthers are asking is, ‘How is this black guy all of the sudden running the country?’ Similarly, Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote that Dobbs was playing on ‘escalating white fear,’ while the Politico’s Glenn Thrush said the charges were ‘a proxy for racism.’ Shortly after Dobbs began giving renewed credibility to the conspiracy, MSNBC president Phil Griffin called the story ‘racist.’ Even conservative commentators like Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter have refused to dignify the accusations. 

Other right-wing commentators, like radio host Michael Savage on WOR AM, alleged the underlying issue is the president’s loyalty, suggesting the administration’s policies on the auto bailout and the campaign for a public health care option are “un-American.”  

The Southern Poverty Law Center has also initiated a campaign to end the racist propaganda. “Lou Dobbs is once again peddling extremist propaganda on CNN,” says the Law Center. “This time, he’s giving legitimacy to the discredited, conspiratorial claims that President Obama was born outside the U.S. and is ineligible to be president.” Action can be taken . 

CNN so far has rebuffed the pressure arguing: “CNN retains the right to object to any ad run by the cable operator on our network whose purpose is to attack CNN or our employees.” 

Dobbs and other birther commentators are among those calling for disruption of town hall health care forums. Dobbs said, “I asked you to make certain to make your voices were heard when our representatives got home … and that has begun.’ In another August 3rd broadcast he said, ‘I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love it when the audience of this broadcast is engaged and making their voices heard. And you’re getting louder by the day. It’s an amazing thing to watch.” 

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