In testimony on Wednesday, Anchor Soledad O'Brien called on news organizations to ban known liars.
At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on "extremism in the media," O'Brien began her testimony by recalling that then-anchor Lou Dobbs had falsely reported about the number of case of leprosy among undocumented immigrants when both journalists were working for CNN in 2005.
"Dobbs's lie advanced his agenda of demonizing undocumented immigrants so it stuck and he got away with it," O'Brien explained. "It was disheartening and degrading and it was also only the beginning."
According to the veteran anchor, Dobbs had helped to usher in an era of "lies and liars" being embraced by some media.
"It's only gotten worse as reporters and anchors chase ratings, toss aside objectivity to divide us into false categories, I believe, of left and right, manipulating facts and debating the liars they booked for their very own shows," she continued. "And when news organizations make decisions based on ratings rather than responsible reporting, disinformation flourishes in dangerous ways."
O'Brien made it clear that she opposes congressional action against news organizations.
"Here's what we can do," she added. "Don't book liars or advance lies. Cover the fact that lies and propaganda are being disseminated but do not book people to lie on your show because it elevates them and presents a lie as another side."
"Every perspective does not deserve a platform," the anchor insisted. "Media thrives on the open exchange of ideas. But that does not mean you have to book a Neo-Nazi every time you book someone who is Jewish. Balance does not mean giving voice to liars, to bigots and to kooks."
O'Brien advised newsrooms to "stop saying you want a diverse staff and go hire one fast."
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