RATINGS WAR

Birther Backlash for Lou Dobbs?

Could it be that debunked conspiracy theories are a bit too much for CNN viewers to handle? Despite the old truism that controversy boosts ratings, Lou Dobbs' numbers appear to have fallen off since he began running segments questioning whether President Obama is a U.S. citizen, a conspiracy theory that had been previously debunked by his own network. According to The New York Observer, the number of viewers for Dobbs' program declined from an average of 771,000 total viewers from July 1 to July 14, to an average of 653,000 in the next two weeks; Dobbs aired his first report on the birth certificate theory on July 15. While some of the drop may be attributed to the Michael Jackson story tapering off, The Observer's Felix Gillette concludes, "In summary, if Mr. Dobbs' affinity for 'birthers' is a ratings ploy, it's a pretty ineffective one."