Lou Dobbs leaving CNN, does not reveal plans

Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:21pm EST
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By Gina Keating and Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CNN host Lou Dobbs, whose outspoken views on U.S. immigration have made him one of the most controversial figures on television, said on Wednesday he is leaving the 24-hour cable news network immediately because he wants a freer platform to state his opinion.

Dobbs, who announced his departure near the start of his nightly news and commentary show, did not say where he plans to go, after nearly 30 years at CNN.

Dobbs, whose ratings have been on the decline, said he had been released from his contract, effective immediately, and wanted "to contribute positively to the understanding of the great issues of our day ... in the most honest and direct language possible."

A CNN source told Reuters Dobbs will be concentrating on his syndicated radio show, "The Lou Dobbs Show." The source would not confirm a New York Times report that he had met with Roger Ailes, chairman and chief executive of the Fox News channel, the News Corp-owned rival to CNN, a unit of Time Warner Inc.

CNN had been under pressure from civil rights and Latino groups to drop Dobbs from its lineup, accusing the host of aligning himself with anti-immigrant groups that critics say espouse hate messages.

"It's about time. He was doing CNN no good," said Nativo Lopez, head of the California-based Mexican-American Political Association that promotes the interests of Mexican-Americans in the United States and is part of a campaign against Dobbs.

"His is not a debate based on science or reason, it's based on prejudice, it's based on racial overtones, it's based on profiling and an obsessive fixation on immigrants from Mexico," said Lopez.

As a radio host, Dobbs also drew criticism by appearing to stoke the so-called "birther" movement, whose adherents believe that President Barack Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate was faked to hide a Kenyan birthplace, making the first black U.S. president ineligible for office.   Continued...