Louis Carl Dobbs (born September 24, 1945) is an American television commentator, author, conspiracy theorist, anti-immigration advocate, radio show host, and the anchor of Lou Dobbs Tonight on Fox Business Network.
Dobbs at CPAC in February 2015
Louis Carl Dobbs
September 24, 1945
|Residence||Wantage Township, New Jersey, U.S.|
|Education||Harvard University (BA)|
|Occupation||Talk radio host, news anchor, managing editor|
|Political party||Republican (until 2001) Independent (2001–present)|
|Spouse(s)||Debi Lee Roth-Segura|
Dobbs was an early promoter of the Barack Obama birtherism conspiracy theory, which posits that Obama is not a natural born US citizen, a theory also widely promoted by candidate Donald Trump prior to his election in 2016. He is known for anti-immigration views, as well as for various deep state conspiracy theories, and opposition to NAFTA and other trade deals. A Trump confidante, his show is known for its pro-Trump coverage.
Dobbs started working with CNN at its inception in 1980, serving as a reporter and network vice president. On the air, he served as host and managing editor of the network's business program, Moneyline, which premiered in 1980. The show was renamed Lou Dobbs Tonight in 2003. Dobbs resigned from CNN for a short period of time in 1999 but rejoined the network in 2001. He resigned once again in November 2009. In 2011, he joined the Fox Business Network, resuming and anchoring his show, Lou Dobbs Tonight. He is the former talk radio host of Lou Dobbs Radio. Dobbs has authored several books since 2001.
Born in Childress County, Texas in 1945, Dobbs is the son of Frank Dobbs, a co-owner of a propane business, and Lydia Mae (née Hensley), a bookkeeper. When Dobbs was 12, his father's propane business failed and the family moved to Rupert, Idaho. He attended Minico High School in Minidoka County, where he played tackle on the football team, played the sousaphone in the band, and served as student body president. Although accepted at the University of Idaho and Idaho State University, he was persuaded by the staff at Minico High to apply to Harvard University, where he was accepted and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1967. While at Harvard, Dobbs lived in Quincy House and was elected to the Owl Club.
After graduating, Dobbs worked for federal anti-poverty programs in Boston and Washington, D.C., then returned to Idaho. He briefly attended law school at the UI College of Law in Moscow, Idaho and then worked as a cash-management specialist for Union Bank of California in Los Angeles. He married his high school sweetheart in 1969, and in 1970 their first son was born. Dobbs moved to Yuma, Arizona, and got a job as a police and fire reporter for KBLU. By the mid-1970s he was a television anchor and reporter in Phoenix, and he later joined Seattle's KING-TV. In 1979, he was contacted by a recruiter for Ted Turner, who was in the process of forming CNN. Dobbs divorced his first wife in 1981 and is now married to Debi Lee Segura, a former CNN sports anchor. The couple raised four children together. Dobbs resides on a 300-acre (1.2 km2) horse farm in Wantage Township, New Jersey.
Dobbs joined CNN when it launched in 1980, serving as its chief economics correspondent and as host of the business news program Moneyline on CNN. Dobbs also served as a corporate executive for CNN, as its executive vice president and as a member of CNN's executive committee. He founded CNN fn (CNN financial news), serving as its president and anchoring the program Business Unusual, which examined business creativity and leadership.
Departure and founding of Space.com
Dobbs repeatedly clashed with Rick Kaplan, who became president of CNN in 1997. Dobbs said Kaplan, noted friend of then president Bill Clinton, was "clearly partisan" and "was pushing Clinton stories", while Kaplan said Dobbs was "a very difficult person to work with".
On April 20, 1999, CNN was covering Clinton's speech in Littleton, Colorado, following the Columbine High School massacre. Dobbs ordered the producer to cut away from the speech and return to broadcast Moneyline. Dobbs was countermanded by Kaplan, who ordered CNN to return to the speech. Kaplan later said, "Tell me what journalistic reason there was not to cover the president at Columbine soon after the shootings? Everyone else was doing it". Dobbs announced on the air that "CNN President Rick Kaplan wants us to return to Littleton". A few days later, Dobbs announced that he was leaving the network to start Space.com, a website devoted to astronautical news. Dobbs was subsequently replaced as host of Moneyline by Willow Bay and Stuart Varney.
Return to CNN
Kaplan left CNN in August 2000, and Dobbs returned the following year, at the behest of his friend and CNN founder Ted Turner, becoming host and managing editor of the new and initially more general news program Lou Dobbs Reporting, which later became CNN News Sunday Morning. He also regained the helm of the newly renamed Lou Dobbs Moneyline (which became Lou Dobbs Tonight in June 2003).
According to the Washington Post, Dobbs started to increasingly focus on the alleged dangers of illegal immigration after returning to CNN.
Exit from CNN
On the November 11, 2009 edition of his nightly broadcast Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs announced his immediate departure from CNN, ending a nearly thirty-year career at the network, citing plans to "pursue new opportunities". CNN President Jon Klein said that Dobbs' departure was not a result of organized opposition to Dobbs' viewpoints.
In July 2009, controversy around Dobbs began when he was the only mainstream news anchor to give airtime to the birther conspiracy theory. Several liberal advocacy groups, including Media Matters, and the Southern Poverty Law Center criticized Dobbs for his reporting. The controversy eventually caused CNN President Jon Klein to rein Dobbs in via an internal memorandum. In September, advocates challenged Dobbs for appearing at a conference organized by the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform. Multiple campaigns were launched, including "Drop Dobbs" (NDN, Media Matters), and "Basta Dobbs" (Presente.org).
The campaigns also attacked CNN for alleged hypocrisy towards Latinos, citing CNN's Latino in America special as incompatible with their continued support of Dobbs. The campaigns generated considerable anti-Dobbs press, and are credited by some[who?] as pushing Dobbs out.
Dobbs was reportedly paid $8 million in severance pay when he left CNN prior to his contract being due for renewal.
After Dobbs left CNN in 2009, he gave an interview where he did not rule out the possibility of running for President of the United States in 2012, saying the final decision would rest with his wife. Former Senator Dean Barkley said he thought Dobbs should run for president.
From 2009 to 2012, Dobbs hosted Lou Dobbs Radio on United Stations Radio Networks. The three-hour daily show had affiliates in several major markets, including its flagship station (WOR) in New York City, Washington D.C. (WHFS), Miami (WZAB-AM) and the San Francisco Bay Area (KDOW), as well as stations such as WGNY-AM in Newburgh, New York. The show was guest-centered and featured political discussion and listener calls. It aired from 2 to 5 p.m. Eastern, directly competing with The Sean Hannity Show, The Tom Sullivan Show and The Dave Ramsey Show. Dobbs also hosts the financially themed Lou Dobbs Minute on the same network.
In June 2008, Dobbs reached an agreement with Business Talk Radio Network to carry a rebroadcast of the show from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern, displacing Bruce Williams. Dobbs' show was also carried live on CRN Digital Talk Radio Networks.
Dobbs was among the hosts who tried out for the position vacated by the cancellation of Imus in the Morning on WFAN, a position that was eventually filled by Boomer and Carton in the Morning. Dobbs mentioned on his radio show that he is currently seeking a position in the US Department of Treasury during the economic crisis. He stated that he believed he could "do more good than the clowns currently in position."
Fox Business Network
On November 10, 2010, Fox Business Network announced that Dobbs would host a show on the channel. The network announced on March 3, 2011 the start date, show title, and time slot of Dobbs' new show. Titled Lou Dobbs Tonight the program debuted on March 14, 2011, airing at 7 PM Eastern. That is the same title and time slot that Dobbs' old CNN show had.
Since 2009, Dobbs has made regular appearances to discuss issues on other news network programs including CNBC's The Kudlow Report and Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor. On October 5, 2010, Dobbs made a guest appearance on an episode of The Good Wife, entitled "Double Jeopardy", in which he plays himself as a client in search of a new law firm to represent his legal interests.
Political views and controversies
Dobbs was a lifelong Republican. However, he later registered as an Independent following a break with the Bush Administration. Dobbs is known for his anti-immigration views, warnings about Islamist terror, and his opposition to free trade. He is known for his pro-Trump coverage. According to The Daily Beast, by 2018, Dobbs had turned into a "full-on conservative nationalist-populist and culture warrior."
Dobbs promoted the false conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. His willingness to raise the "birther" issue repeatedly even though CNN itself considered it a "discredited rumor", led the Washington Post's TV critic to remark that this "explains their upcoming documentary: 'The World: Flat. We Report – You Decide.'" The issue had come up in 2008 during the Presidential campaign, and had largely disappeared from the media spotlight until Dobbs picked up the issue again. His statements in support of these conspiracy theories were dubbed "racist" and "defamatory" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The controversy led to Media Matters airing ads critical of Dobbs and of CNN, and to Jon Stewart mocking Dobbs on the satirical Comedy Central television series The Daily Show. The New York Times said that Dobbs had "become a publicity nightmare for CNN, embarrassed his boss and hosted a show that seemed to contradict the network's 'no bias' brand."
He said of the Obama administration's EPA that it was being run as if it were "part of the apparat of the Soviet Union."
Dobbs holds anti-immigration views. Dobbs has been strongly opposed to both illegal immigration and foreign worker programs as the H-1B visa program and guest-worker programs. In a 2006 article, Dobbs expressed frustration at failed legislation to build a southern "border fence to stop the flow of illegal aliens and drugs across our borders." He argued that the "true victims of corporate America's lust for cheap labor" were "American working men and women, taxpayers all." During efforts to implement comprehensive immigration reform during the Bush administration in 2007, Dobbs devoted more than a quarter of all of his airtime during a three-month period to the subject of immigration, and covered it negatively.
Dobbs' show has made factually incorrect claims, such as the one that illegal immigrants were responsible for bringing 7,000 new cases of leprosy to the United States in a three-year period, where the actual timeframe was over the last thirty years. In addressing the leprosy issue, Dobbs in May 2007 compared his critics from the left and right political spectrums to "commies" and "fascists." Dobbs has also falsely claimed that "illegal aliens" were a third of the total prison population in the United States.
Dobbs has criticized local officials for their approach to border security. In October 2007 he labeled then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer an "idiot" for advocating the issuance of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. Hillary Clinton labeled Dobbs' illegal immigration segments as having "all that hot air."
At about 10:30 a.m. on October 5, 2009, a bullet struck Dobbs' home as his wife stood outside it. The bullet struck the vinyl siding of their attic without penetrating the vinyl and fell to the ground. Dobbs attributed the incident to his stance against amnesty for illegal immigrants. The New Jersey State Police troopers' account of the incident attributed it to a stray bullet from a hunter in the vicinity.
In a November 2009 interview with Telemundo, Dobbs said that the U.S. needed a "rational, effective humane policy" for immigration that included enhanced border security and also "the ability to legalize illegal immigrants on certain conditions."
In October 2010, The Nation published the results of a yearlong investigation detailing undocumented workers who had worked on Dobbs' personal properties. The labor involved upkeep of Dobbs' multimillion-dollar estates in New Jersey and Florida, including the horses belonging to his daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper. The article featured interviews with five immigrants who had worked without papers on Dobbs' properties. Dobbs and his daughter had declined to comment to The Nation as part of the story. Speaking to the Associated Press, Dobbs referred to the article as "a political assault," claiming it was a lie that he hired illegal immigrants. He said: "I have never, do not now, and never will."
Dobbs' critics, including columnist James K. Glassman, author of Dow 36,000 and member of the American Enterprise Institute think tank, have accused him of inciting xenophobia. Others have accused him of Hispanophobia, a charge he denies and one which he has said offends him deeply, as his wife Debi Segura is a Mexican-American.
Support for Trump
On his show Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs stopped short of a full endorsement of Presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying, "Whatever you think of Trump, whatever your politics, Trump has taken on enormous risk and threats in seeking the presidency ... promised to restore the voice of the people ... and a government that will respect all that our Constitution assures." Dobbs has since endorsed Donald Trump. In October 2017, Dobbs said that the Trump presidency "may be the most accomplished in modern American history." Trump praised Dobbs in return. Later that month, Dobbs interviewed Trump, with numerous observers describing Dobbs's interview style as fawning and sycophantic. Dobbs opened the interview with "You have accomplished so much", and later said to Trump that he was "one of the most loved and respected" presidents "in history." The New York Times described the interview as a love-fest and "courtier-like session", as Dobbs "didn't so much ask questions as open his mouth and let rose petals fall out". Dobbs has been described as a "close informal adviser to President Donald Trump."
On October 13, 2016, Dobbs publicized by Twitter a link which contained the address and phone number of a woman who was among several who had come forward with allegations of being sexually assaulted by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Trump repeatedly calls Dobbs to get his views on various policy issues. In 2017 Trump patched Dobbs into senior-level Oval Office meetings multiple times, sometimes interrupting officials to ask for Dobbs' opinions.
Dobbs is a proponent of the Deep State conspiracy theory. In January 2018, Dobbs called for a "war" on the "Deep State", which he described as the FBI and the Department of Justice. Dobbs said that the FBI and DOJ had destroyed evidence and that they were clandestinely working to bring down the Trump presidency. In June 2018, Dobbs promoted a conspiracy which originated on Reddit and the far-right conspiracy website Gateway Pundit that "the FBI May have initiated a number of spies into the Trump campaign as early as December of 2015." Shortly after Dobbs promoted the unfounded conspiracy theory, Trump retweeted Dobbs' assertion and praised Dobbs for a "great interview". In July 2018, Dobbs said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was on a "jihad" against Trump, and accused him of seeking to "subvert" and "overthrow" Trump's presidency. In December 2018, Dobbs said there was "a legion of evildoers" in the FBI and that "we've got all of the folks in the FBI, corrupt, politically corrupt." That same month, he said that the judge overseeing Michael Flynn's sentencing sounded as if he was part of Mueller's "witch hunt."
After Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not investigating alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election, Dobbs attacked Sessions, saying that he had become physically or mentally unwell. Dobbs said, "Sessions has fallen ill, he's incapacitated in some fashion, or he's been coopted or captured: to preserve any dignity, for the good of the country he needs to resign."
In July 2018, Dobbs defended the Trump administration's decision to ban a CNN reporter from a press event. Multiple Fox colleagues, including Fox News President Jay Wallace, had shown solidarity with CNN and called on the White House to rescind the ban. In 2012, when a Daily Caller reporter was criticized by the White House for shouting out a question during an address by Obama, Dobbs defended the reporter, saying "What is rude is a president not speaking to the American people and taking the questions of the White House press." CNN's Jake Tapper suggested that Dobbs was hypocritical, saying "Lou Dobbs, it might surprise you to find out, had a very different take on the situation.... Sometimes I find some people in this environment, you will be interested to know, say the exact opposite thing about President Trump than they did about President Obama."
That same month, Dobbs ran a segment pushing unsubstantiated claims that Google was biased against Trump and that Google was promoting anti-Trump stories. Following Dobbs' segment, Trump tweeted that Google was suppressing conservatives and he tasked economic adviser Larry Kudlow to look into regulating Google.
In September 2018, after Trump falsely claimed that the official death count from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was fabricated by Democrats, Dobbs defended Trump's assertion. Dobbs claimed that "the numbers were inflated" and that the organizations behind the numbers "threw out science, statistics, and evidence to discredit the Trump administration."
In October 2018, when CNN and a number of prominent Democrats were targeted with bomb attempts, Dobbs described the bomb attempts as "fake news" and promoted conspiracy theories that the bomb attempts were by Democrats who sought to increase their support in the upcoming mid-term elections. Several Fox News employees expressed dismay over Dobbs' rhetoric, with one employee telling CNN, "It's people like Dobbs who really ruin it for all the hard working journalists at Fox."
When the Trump administration rescinded CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass, Dobbs supported the administration. At the same time, numerous media organizations, including Fox News, spoke out against the Trump administration's decision. When U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, temporarily restored Acosta's press pass, Dobbs described the ruling as "absurd." When the Trump administration complied with the ruling, Dobbs called on the administration to ignore the ruling and tell the "district court judge to go to hell."
In January 2019, Dobbs described Mitt Romney as a "traitor" and "treasonous" after he published an op-ed in the Washington Post criticizing Trump's character. That same month during a government shutdown, Dobbs called on Trump to declare a national emergency and to "simply sweep aside the recalcitrant left in this country."
On his April 10, 2019 program, Dobbs presented a graphic with the title "Trump's Soaring Approval," citing a recent poll showing Trump with a 55% approval rating; Trump tweeted the graphic the next day. The poll actually found Trump had a 55% disapproval rating, with 43% approval. The 55% disapproval was higher than the 53% RealClearPolitics average that day.
Anti-Semitic George Soros conspiracy theories
Dobbs has peddled numerous conspiracy theories about the Jewish-American philanthropist and businessman George Soros. Dobbs has referred to him as an "evil SOB" and insidious.
Dobbs's Fox Business Channel shows stirred controversy in October 2018 when a guest on Dobbs' show used what many described as an anti-Semitic trope to suggest that the State Department was "Soros-occupied" territory (which echoed the anti-Semitic trope of a "Zionist-occupied government"). The remarks came days after bombing attempts on Soros, and the remarks were replayed on Fox Business hours after an anti-Semitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue which killed 11 people. After widespread condemnation, Fox stated that the guest, Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch, would no longer be booked.
On September 11, 2019, Dobbs warned his viewers on Fox Business that Soros' "tentacles were spreading globally", deploying a well-known antisemetic canard in which the Jewish people are depicted as an octopus spreading its tentacles all over the world.
Dobbs was a registered Republican. Though he made a donation of $1,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign in January 2001, he often has described the Bush administration and the then Republican-controlled Congress as "disgraceful." He has also argued that both parties are controlled by corporate interests.
Dobbs is pro-choice, opposes gun control and, though he is a fiscal conservative, supports some government regulations, as revealed in a 60 Minutes interview. He has been critical of trade policies that he says encourage "sending jobs overseas".
Dobbs' stance on trade has earned plaudits from some trade union activists on the traditional political left, while his stance on immigration tends to appeal to the right. In an interview with Larry King, Dobbs revealed that he is now "an unaffiliated independent" owing to dissatisfaction with both the Republican and Democratic parties.
In June 2006, as the U.S. Senate debated the Federal Marriage Amendment, Dobbs was critical of the action. He asserted that marriage was threatened more by financial crises perpetuated by Bush administration economic policy than by same-sex marriage.
Dobbs is the author of War on the Middle Class, in which he claims that both Democrats and Republicans are harming the middle class. In it, he comes out strongly against the Bush tax cuts, which he argues favor the wealthy, and argued for raising the U.S. minimum wage from what was then $5.15 an hour.
In May 2019, Dobbs warned Disney and Netflix that there would be severe consequences for the companies if they left Georgia in protest over the state's restrictive abortion laws. Dobbs said, "retaliation from the other side will follow and it will escalate to the disadvantage and destruction of all."
Dobbs has also been criticized for his lack of journalistic ethics by liberal news journalist Amy Goodman. She accused him of flagrant errors in his reporting and his staff's association with disreputable sources, stating that "he has a special responsibility to rely on facts and to correct misstatements of fact."
Dobbs has won numerous major awards for his television journalism, most notably a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award and a Cable Ace Award. He received the George Foster Peabody Award for his coverage of the 1987 stock market crash. He also has received the Luminary Award of the Business Journalism Review in 1990, the Horatio Alger Association Award for Distinguished Americans in 1999 and the National Space Club Media Award in 2000. The Wall Street Journal has named Dobbs "TV's Premier Business News Anchorman". In 2004, Dobbs was awarded the Eugene Katz Award For Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration by the Center for Immigration Studies and in 2005 he received the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution's Statesmanship Award. Dobbs was named "Father of the Year" by the National Father's Day Committee in 1993. In 2008 Dobbs received the American Legion Public Relations Award from the National Commander of The American Legion.
- Lou Dobbs, with James O. Born, Border War, Forge, (2014). ISBN 9780765327710.
- Lou Dobbs, Independents Day: Awakening The American Spirit, Viking, (2007). ISBN 978-0-670-01836-9.
- Lou Dobbs, Exporting America: Why Corporate Greed Is Shipping American Jobs Overseas, Warner Books, (2004). ISBN 0-446-57744-8.
- Lou Dobbs, Space: The Next Business Frontier with HP Newquist, Pocket Books, (2001). ISBN 0-7434-2389-5
- Lou Dobbs, War on the Middle Class: How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back, Viking, (2006). ISBN 0-670-03792-3.
- Ron Hira and Anil Hira, with foreword by Lou Dobbs, Outsourcing America: What's behind Our National Crisis and how we can reclaim American Jobs. (AMACOM), American Management Association, (May 2005). ISBN 0-8144-0868-0.
- Lou Dobbs, "Upheaval", Threshold Editions, (2014) ISBN 978-1-4767-2885-8
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