A Bellweather Change at CNN News?
What’s up at CNN? Speculation grows regarding the
long-awaited mysterious disappearance of Lou Dobbs, allegedly for a tonsillectomy, and the refreshing appearance of anchor Rick Sanchez and his diametrically opposed Out in the Open weekday news show in the 8:00 p.m. prime time slot. Dobbs is primarily known for his relentless Broken Record Broken Borders anti-Hispanic invective and his support for building a wall along the Mexican border. Sanchez, born Ricardo Sanchez in Guanabacoa, Cuba, has been with CNN since September 2004, and also frequently reports on CNN en Español. Legendary broadcaster Larry King last week called Out in the Open “groundbreaking,” and told Sanchez that he was making “broadcasting history.”
Sanchez has put a human face on the plight of immigrants drawn here for economic reasons but faced with a level of racism not seen since the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s. On Friday, 5 October, Sanchez reported on the draconian “criminal alien program” of the Irving, Texas police department and of the problem with police departments across the country increasingly “making up the rules as they go,” unfettered by Federal guidelines regarding the detention of immigrants. Ninety Hispanic children have been pulled out of school in Irving; their parents don’t want to call attention to themselves or to their children. The Mexican Consul in Houston, Enrique Hubbard Urrea, has warned Mexicans not to go to Irving unless they absolutely have to.
One Hispanic woman in Irving, hit in a car accident, was deported when her status was discovered at the scene of the car wreck. Another Hispanic man in Irving, opening his garage door, was spotted by police who thought he might be a burglar. (Talk about racial profiling!) He was deported. People are being stopped for specious reasons such as broken headlights. It’s believed that undocumented Hispanics contribute somewhere between $1 billion to $10 billion a year to the U.S. economy and since they are usually too afraid to file tax returns, they do pay taxes and don’t get refunds, unlike many Americans. Legalizing them and collecting yet more taxes sounds like an idea that might appeal to local, state and Federal governments.
Sanchez does CNN credit by reporting on the hardships and inequities endured by undocumented workers, but is also entertaining, positive and witty. In one segment, he showed a section of our much-touted new border fence. It’s made of concrete pillars; carjacks have been used in several places to enlarge the space between pillars and allow people to slip through. Repairs are expensive…and likely to be never-ending. Honduras-born comedian Carlos Mencia and Cuban Gloria Estefan have both appeared on his show in the past week. As Sanchez says: “You want inspiration? Look up.” Born in 1958, he immigrated to the United States with his parents in the 1950s and grew up in Hialeah, Florida. The journalist won an Emmy for Cuando sali de Cuba (When I left Cuba), documenting his transformation from a non-English speaking Hispanic immigrant to mainstream American television reporter.
Meanwhile, Lou Dobbs’ tonsillectomy recovery continues. His page at CNN wasn’t updated from 11 September to 1 October. His 1 October entry in Tonight’s Facts covers a 2004 policy in Dane County, Wisconsin barring social workers from inquiring about the immigration status of prospective welfare recipients. 2004? Must be a slow news day. While tonsillectomies are usually more painful for adult patients, postoperative recovery usually lasts from 10 to 20 days. Tonight’s Lou Dobbs This Week broadcast was, once again, anchored by Kitty Pilgrim, seen here in an outdated photo. (Is it possible to have a WASP-ier sounding name than Kitty Pilgrim?) She has also been anchoring the Lou Dobbs Tonight weekday broadcast. Maybe with a bit of luck, Lou will depart, as he did from 1999 to 2001 when he founded space.com. He can’t be happy with Sanchez’s reportage.
On 24 July 2007, anchor Paula Zahn, whose show aired in the 8:00 p.m. time slot now occupied by Sanchez, announced her resignation from CNN. Her final broadcast aired on 2 August 2007. The plan was for Campbell Brown to anchor the 8 p.m. news beginning in November 2007, a date which has now been pushed back to February 2008. Who cares about Campbell Brown? Keep Rick! He brings a new perspective to current reporting on our immigration problems in particular. A little less fear-mongering is a good thing.
Read another post about Lou Dobbs.
Photo credits: CNN, Denis Poroy / AP and Corkery / NY Daily News
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