Ex-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs accused of hiring illegal immigrants; he denies it [Updated]
Former CNN host Lou Dobbs, notorious for his vehement rants against undocumented workers on his show "Lou Dobbs Tonight" and his radio program "The Lou Dobbs Show," employed at least five illegal immigrants himself, according to a new piece in The Nation. The magazine claims that Dobbs "has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper."
Published after a yearlong study by the Nation's Investigative Fund, the story reports that workers were hired not by Dobbs but through companies responsible for landscaping and care of the horses. But one undocumented man claims that Dobbs "knew very well that the majority of us didn't have papers" and that it was "never a problem."
While at CNN, Dobbs regularly railed against free trade and illegal immigration, using arguments that some found offensive. He has claimed that some Mexican Americans want to return California to Mexico and once implied that leprosy cases were on the rise because of illegal immigrants. He left the network in November, after Latino groups protested against his remarks, but he's continued to speak out about the issue on the "tea party" circuit.
Ironically, Dobbs has focused much of his anger at the individuals who hire "illegals." In March, he told Univision that "the illegal employer is the central issue in this entire mess!" During his time at CNN, he called private firms that oppose verification requirements for workers "ridiculous," and also proposed that "illegal employers who hire illegal aliens" should face felony charges.
For his part, Dobbs is furious about the new accusations against him. The Associated Press quotes him as saying that The Nation article is "a political assault" based on what he called "the lie" that he has hired illegal immigrants, and he asserts: "I have never, do not now, and never will."
"Few news organizations even feel [responsible] to point out to their audiences that the Nation is a left wing [activist], advocacy [publication]," he wrote in another tweet.
[Updated at 12:27 p.m.: MSNBC has announced that Dobbs will appear on MSNBC's "The Last Word" tonight to discuss the allegations. The Nation's Isabel MacDonald, who wrote the story, will appear in a separate interview.]
-- Melissa Maerz
Photo: Lou Dobbs speaks about immigration at the National Press Club in Washington in 2007. Credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty