The 'So-Called Free Trade' of Lou Dobbs

October 26th, 2007 4:29 PM

     Though Lou Dobbs temporarily lost his ability to speak due to a tonsillectomy through part of August and into October, he did not lose his nightly voice on CNN.


     “Lou Dobbs Tonight” continued to confuse news and opinion while attacking America’s free trade agreements in Latin America, flooding the airwaves with the show’s age-old “so-called free trade” phrase in Dobbs’ absence.  


     The August 15 broadcast demonstrated the extent to which Dobbs’ history of bias had already infiltrated the program, as understudy Kitty Pilgrim asserted that “millions of Americans have lost their jobs because of outsourcing and so-called free trade agreements.”


     In addition to continuing Dobbs’ signature tirade, Pilgrim’s statement clearly ignored reports to the contrary.


     Daniel J. Ikenson, the associate director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, contended in an August 28 article that “Policymakers point repeatedly to the loss of 3 million manufacturing jobs as evidence of impending doom, even though those acute losses occurred between 2000 and 2003, and job decline in manufacturing has leveled off to historic averages.”


     By September, it was clear Pilgrim had only become more comfortable in her position. Throughout the September 27 broadcast, she referred to “so-called free trade” four times while reporting on the congressional debate over renewing trade agreements in Latin America. Once again, the report ignored all pro-trade perspectives on the issue.


     One recently ignored perspective was that of James M. Roberts’ article from The Heritage Foundation on September 12 that clearly stated “Failure to complete the agreement would empower Latin America’s anti-democratic ‘21st Century Socialism’ movement and strike a blow against pro-market, pro-democracy reformers in Peru and across Latin America.”


     Roberts went on to talk about the extent to which U.S. values are already being undermined in Latin America by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro of Cuba. Both Roberts and Ikenson made it clear that there is more to these agreements than just trade. Socialism in Latin America is threatening the stability of such countries as Peru, Colombia and Panama, and the illegal drug market persists.


     In a July 11 broadcast Lou Dobbs himself accused Hugo Chavez’s “anti-American regime” of aiding drug cartels whose drugs end up in the United States. Dobbs even questioned what the U.S. government would do about the problem.


     It took Dobbs a little while to get his feet wet upon returning on October 8, but on October 22, the host used “so-called free trade” twice in his broadcast.


     Unfortunately, the terminology that had replaced the common phrase made “so-called free trade” look complimentary when it finally returned. In his October 12 broadcast, Dobbs reminded his viewers of his opinions on the country’s trade policies as he ranted that “people are struggling to survive because of the stupid trade policies pursued by these idiots in both political parties for 30 years.”


     Of course, the “so-called” phrase has not been limited to free trade.  Dobbs frequently uses the phrase while referencing a myriad of topics. Since October 15 alone, the host has referred to 10 different topics as “so-called,” including “so-called leaders in Washington” and “so-called value voters.”

     The Business & Media Institute did a report in 2005 on Lou Dobbs’ failure to inform viewers of the ways U.S. free trade policies positively affect the American economy and its citizens.