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UPDATED: CNN declines to run Media Matters ad attacking network’s Lou Dobbs

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The liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America is ratcheting up the pressure on CNN this week with a television ad slamming the network for allowing host Lou Dobbs to continue raising questions about President Obama’s birth certificate on the air.

In the ad, which Media Matters is seeking to run on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC for at least a week, the group spotlights Dobbs’ recent focus on the so-called birther controversy, fueled by right-wing critics of Obama who question whether he is really a citizen.

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“Let CNN know there’s nothing ‘legitimate’ about racially charged paranoia,” the ad says. The spot will begin airing Tuesday in New York, Atlanta and Washington, including during ‘Lou Dobbs Tonight,’ the host’s daily CNN program. CNN did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dobbs has said that he believes Obama is a citizen but has continued to report on the rumors, saying that the president should produce a long-form birth certificate for the sake of “transparency.”

On his radio show Friday, Dobbs called Media Matters “a rabid, left-wing operation” and said the idea that it would run an ad against him “just really extraordinary.”

“It isn’t an issue of legitimacy; it isn’t an issue of citizenship … because I believe he’s a citizen of the United States,” he said. “It’s an issue of just being open, transparent -- deliver the goods and be done with it and move on. … If it’s not openness and transparency, then it’s pretty much arrogance on the part of this president, that he’s above the very same principles that were followed by, amongst others, John McCain throughout his campaign.”

Late last month, CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein told Dobbs’ producers in an internal e-mail that he believes the supposed controversy is a “dead” story. But in an interview, he defended Dobbs’ coverage and said he had not issued a directive for him to drop the topic.

Dobbs has raised most of the questions about Obama’s birth certificate on his nationally syndicated radio program. His most recent reference to the issue on CNN was on July 28, when he reported that the director of the Hawaii Department of Health said she had seen Obama’s original birth certificate on file.

“That official repeated her opinion that the president was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 4, 1961,” Dobbs said.

UPDATE: After CNN objected to the spot, most major cable providers declined to run it on that network.

“CNN retains the right to object to any ad run by the cable operator on our network whose purpose is to attack CNN or our employees,” the cable news channel said in a statement. The ad will still air on Fox News and MSNBC in New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., during the 4 p.m. PT hour, the same time that CNN runs “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

-- Matea Gold

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