When the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) President J. Richard Cohen appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show this past summer and called on CNN to fire Lou Dobbs over his inaccurate immigration reporting, O’Reilly advised Cohen to stop wasting his time. O’Reilly was so sure Dobbs would never be fired from CNN that he was willing to bet Cohen $10,000:
O’REILLY: CNN is never going to fire him, you know that…
COHEN: I’m not quite as cynical as you are Bill. I think that if enough people speak out, CNN will listen and be more responsible in the future.
O’REILLY: You wanna bet?…I’ve got ten grand for Habitat for Humanity on the table if you wanna bet me.
COHEN: How about ten grand for the Southern Poverty Law Center?
O’REILLY: But I’m not going to take your money. There’s no real bet there — he’s not going to get fired.
In an open letter addressed to O’Reilly that was posted yesterday, Cohen states “You lost the bet. Time to pay up!” Granted, O’Reilly’s commitment to the bet was tepid, at best — but Cohen points out that “in the court of public opinion, you lose.” Cohen cites Dobbs’ $8 million severance package as proof that Dobbs didn’t just get “fed up and quit.”
Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor featured a friendly interview with Dobbs last night in which O’Reilly suggested that Dobbs’ departure had nothing to do with responsible journalism, and more to do with CNN not wanting to offend the President. Dobbs clarified that CNN had a problem with his “advocacy journalism” and agreed to “come back on a semi-regular basis.”