I want to believe a boycott could shut Lou Dobbs up.
But I live in reality, not the land of wishful thinking that is behind a campaign called Drop Dobbs ( www.dropdobbs.com).
Advertisers are being urged to pull their dollars from the CNN host's time slot or face rebuke. Organizers are fed up with Dobbs' often distorted views, like the contention he once made that South Asian illegal immigrants were infecting the U.S. with leprosy in untold numbers. Health experts pounced on the ludicrous claims. Dobbs refused to correct himself.
In fact, it's Dobbs' ability to insert illegal immigrants into virtually any issue that causes much of the tension. In March, Dobbs charged the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with being "interested in the export of American capital and production to Mexico and Mexico's export of drugs and illegal aliens to the United States."
Dobbs apologized for that gaffe.
Last week, the National Council of La Raza signed on to the campaign. The D.C.-based group is headed by Kansas City, Kan.-reared Janet Murguia. She has attempted to appear on Dobbs' show as a rational, sane voice. And she's been dismissed by his condescending smirk.
The final straw for La Raza was Dobbs' support of a recent gathering of talk radio hosts in D.C. sponsored by a group with an unsavory history of ties to eugenics and arguments that some races are intellectually inferior to others.
But I'm not convinced most of America buys into what Dobbs is saying anyway. A certain segment of society will agree, because his pronouncements come with a faux bravado of patriotism. But it's mostly hype, and Dobbs knows it.
A few years ago, I attended a panel discussion where Dobbs had to set aside pompousness and rely on his intelligence.
A ballroom full of journalists attended, many of them versed in immigration law.
Dobbs and Jorge Castaneda, once a right-hand man to the then president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, were among the speakers. In that room, Dobbs couldn't be the Lou Dobbs of cable TV. Too many informed people were staring him in the face. The result was a calmer, more thoughtful Lou.
I doubt pressure on advertisers will have the same result. As a tool for social change, such tactics tend not to work, at least in this era. Markets are too widespread, too difficult to affect. Besides, agitators rarely influence systemic change. They often get handout concessions, a little something in exchange for going away.
The advertisers that do react will probably just shift their time slot. They'll still advertise with CNN. And Dobbs will remain on the air, leaving one other option. Turn him off.