Dobbs Program Deliberately Takes Free Market Advocate Out of Context

Hard to believe that a woman with a master's degree from the Northwestern Medill J-school would do this, but CNN correspondent Lisa Sylvester did, and where else but on "Lou Dobbs Tonight", that bulwark of "advocacy journalism."

In its rush to anger viewers about private company “ownership” of public roads, the January 9 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” presented only one proponent of privatized toll roads, and then misrepresented his position on the issue, cutting out his defense of private investment.

Anchor Lou Dobbs sounded the alarm about federal highways “now being sold to the highest bidder” as he introduced a story by Lisa Sylvester. Sylvester began by suggesting that “Wall Street is paving the road to highway privatization” and that far from being sound policy, “states are eyeing privatization as a quick fix.”

Sylvester, who earned her master’s degree from the distinguished Medill School of Journalism, then aired a clip of the Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole. The sound bite featured the transportation policy expert observing that while “people are frustrated” with congested roads and that “nobody really wants to raise gas taxes.”

Those sound bite selections left viewers with the impression that Poole favors more taxes and government spending on highways, which is far from true. Yet when asked by the Business & Media Institute (BMI) about his reaction to Sylvester’s presentation, Poole assured BMI that he “addressed all their concerns in the material we taped.”

“I was afraid they would selectively use what I said,” Poole lamented in an e-mail, adding he’d “debated whether even to be interviewed” given the show’s previous biased presentation on transportation.

[more follows the jump]

While Poole’s other comments never made it past the cutting room floor, Sylvester found time to feature complaints about road privatization from the extremely liberal Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.), who scored a 100 out of 100 Liberal Quotient in 2005 with the Americans for Democratic Action, and Todd Spencer of the Independent Drivers Association, which represents truck drivers who naturally oppose toll roads.

In a follow-up e-mail, Poole shared more with me.

"I even, at the end, volunteered that this issue is the exact opposite of offshore 'outsourcing' that Dobbs is concerned about. By contrast with sending big sums overseas, creating jobs in China, etc., this is a clever way of enticing billions in foreign capital to be invested here, creating thousands of American jobs rebuilding and expanding our highway infrastructure."

Clearly NOT a point of view that neo-mercantilist Lou Dobbs wants his audience to in-source.

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