PASADENA, Calif. — “We’re the only news network based on reporting,” CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein said, almost as an aside, as his network was winding up a session at the TV critics’ press tour featuring heavy hitters Christiane Amanpour, John King, and Soledad O’Brien.
But then there’s Lou Dobbs, who continues to follow the non-controversy perpetuated by a handful of knuckleheads about whether President Obama was actually born in the United States.
Fact check: He was.
“Mr. Dobbs is trying to get ratings, trying to be provocative, just using this to stir the pot and get viewers,” none other than Bill O’Reilly said Monday night on his show, where Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen called on CNN to take off the air the man O’Reilly characterized as a “bloviator.”
“Lou wants it both ways,” Cohen said. “He wants to pretend he’s a newscaster.”
CNN apparently wants it both ways, too. Klein pooh-poohed the idea that Dobbs should be censured, stressing that on CNN, Dobbs himself acknowledges the birth issue is moot, even as he interviews people who keep questioning.
On his radio show, Dobbs goes a little further, stirring the pot to get attention.
“His radio show is separate from what’s on our air,” said Klein, who said suggestions that he clamp down on Dobbs were misguided and would hinder the vibrancy of CNN. “On CNN, the birth-certificate issue is a dead issue.”
But I’ll bet Dobbs keeps stirring it anyway. Ratings, and all that.
Here’s some news from the press tour so new it won’t happen for more than a month.
It’s the Archive of American Television, located online at emmytvlegends.org. This is a very cool Web site, sponsored by the people who bring you the Emmys, which are frequently misguided. But this site isn’t. Beaucoup interviews with TV legends, from both in front of and behind the cameras: Mary Tyler Moore, Steven Bochco, Rita Moreno, Uncle Walter Cronkite, Michael J. Fox, and on and on and on, even Robert Adler, the guy who invented the remote control. (He’s not too happy with the modern versions: “Too many buttons.”)
You can go there now and click through to lots of half-hour interviews on YouTube. The originals are two to seven hours (the longest from Dan Rather). Starting Sept. 1, if the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences meets its deadline, the interviews will be cataloged into bite-sized pieces by subject matter, so you can go directly to Phylicia Rashad remembering her meeting with Nelson Mandela, who thanked her for “The Cosby Show.”
“I watched it with my guard,” Mandela said, referring to his long incarceration under apartheid on South Africa’s Robben Island. “And it softened him.”