The TV Column: Lisa de Moraes on Day 1 of the Summer TV Press Tour

George Lopez is launching his new late-night show with a presidential assist.
George Lopez is launching his new late-night show with a presidential assist. (By Alberto E. Rodriguez -- Getty Images)
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By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

PASADENA, Calif., July 28

Summer TV Press Tour 2009 kicked off Tuesday with CNN showing up to plug a new Christiane Amanpour documentary, a Soledad O'Brien series and John King's "State of the Union."

Sadly, TV critics mostly wanted to talk about Lou Dobbs, host of the news network's "I'm Lou Dobbs and You're Not," and his ongoing gasbagging about President Obama not coughing up his birth certificate.

Dobbs thinks that Obama should produce it to put to rest rantings and rumors that he's not actually a natural-born U.S. citizen and therefore not eligible to be president. Not producing the birth certificate looks pretty fishy, Dobbs has insinuated.

"There are two strands to this story," CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein began to explain patiently to the critics. "There are the facts and then there is the flap. What Lou, and everybody else at CNN, has done is very clearly report and run down the facts."

There is no doubt, Klein acknowledged, that Obama was born in Hawaii. "And Lou Dobbs has reported that over and over again."

Separate from that, Klein said, is the issue of people who believe it anyway. Dobbs, Klein explained, is merely "exploring those flaps."

"But it's a dead issue," he added.

Why give so much airtime to a dead issue? Glad you asked. TV critics did, too. More accurately, one asked: Why is so much airtime being devoted to "giving voice to this sort of idiocy on your network?"

Klein argued that CNN had spent a lot more time on health care, Afghanistan and Iraq, "but the spirit of your question is, why we devote any time," Klein said. (These news-network chiefs can be pretty patronizing.)

CNN viewers expect it to "do the reporting, present the facts and present a range of points of views" and then "viewers want to make up their own minds," Klein explained.

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