CNN anchor Lou Dobbs—one of the network’s first hires in 1980—is leaving the channel, he said on his program Lou Dobbs Tonight Nov. 11. Dobbs says his departure is effective immediately, and that Wednesday’s show will be his last for the network.
Although he was billed as Mr. Independent on his CNN program, Dobbs had been a lightning rod at the network.
He came under fire this year for giving so-called “birthers,” people who believe President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, a largely friendly platform to present their views.
He has also been a vocal critic of illegal immigration and has been criticized for his stance on that issue a number of times over the last few years. In October, CNN's four-hour special Latino in America prompted Latino advocacy groups to protest the network.
Progressive groups including Media Matters organized Dump Dobbs campaigns.
CNN president Jon Klein apparently gave Dobbs a choice of either doing a straight news program or leaving, say sources. Dobbs' contract was reported to extend into 2011.
"With characteristic forthrightness, Lou has now decided to carry the banner of advocacy journalism elsewhere," Klein said in a statement. "We respect his decision and wish him, Debi, and his family the very best.”
Dobbs says he is “considering a number of different options” for where he will end up, but says he wants to continue to advocate for issues he thinks are important.
He added that business leaders and others “have been urging me to go beyond my role here at CNN and engage in constructive problem-solving.”
“I will be eternally grateful to CNN, to Ted Turner, and all of my colleague and friends,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs will continue to do his radio program. There has been much speculation that he would jump to Fox News or Fox Business. On Wednesday a Fox spokesperson said:
“We have not had any discussions with Lou Dobbs for Fox News or Fox Business.”
CNN has said that it will name a replacement for Dobbs on Thursday.
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