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Tv Press Tour

Dobbs' Obama story goes on

July 29, 2009|Maria Elena Fernandez and Greg Braxton

The Television Critics Assn. press tour, the semiannual gathering of television journalists from around the country, began at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena on Tuesday. We offer you these dispatches.

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Just moments after CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein addressed the issue at the press tour, anchor Lou Dobbs did another long segment on the so-called "birther movement," reporting on the air that the director of Hawaii's Department of Health said Monday that she has seen President Obama's long-form birth certificate.

Dobbs also corrected what he reported on Friday, at Klein's urging, that Hawaii had discarded all the paper documents after it went paperless in 2001. In fact, it has not, Dobbs said Tuesday. (Hawaii Health Department officials told the Los Angeles Times last week that old birth records have not been destroyed.)

On Friday, Klein declared the supposed controversy regarding the legitimacy of Obama's birth certificate a "dead story." But the media are far from letting Dobbs off the hook for raising the issue repeatedly on his syndicated radio program and discussing it on the air on CNN.

On Tuesday, appearing at the press tour, Klein said that Dobbs never questioned Obama's birthplace. Dobbs, he said, "was just reporting the flap." After the news conference, a group of reporters gathered around Klein to ask more:

Question: If Dobbs wanted to explore whether the British had won the Revolutionary War, would that be a legitimate topic?

Answer: It would not be legitimate for Lou or anyone else at CNN to explore whether Barack Obama is an American citizen. That's why he hasn't done that. And I think the people who are making noise about that have to look at closely what the discussions have been. It's all about the phenomenon of doubters.

Q: Are you distinguishing from what he said on his radio show?

A: Oh, yes, absolutely. We have no control over what he says on his radio show. It's not a CNN radio program, so he does what he does on the radio separate from what he does on our air. So we ask you and anyone writing about this to look at what he says on CNN. It's the only thing we control.

Q: Is it a topic you'd rather see him drop at this point?

A: I would rather all of our leading journalists rely on their best judgments and instincts and our guidance about them. We believe in the editorial compass of all of our people. It's going to be different according to the individual. But that just makes us a more interesting and vibrant place. Lou is listening to a certain segment of the population all day long on his radio show so naturally that's going to inform some of the decisions that he makes. But, again, to be clear: He is not exploring the question of whether Barack Obama is an American citizen. That is settled. It is a dead issue as far as CNN is concerned.

Reynolds mum on reality show

Jillian (Barberie) Reynolds, the weather and lifestyle anchor of Fox 11's "Good Day L.A.," boasted about her wild sex antics, her dislike of colleague Dorothy Lucey and other alcohol-fueled intimate details of her personal life when she appeared on Howard Stern's radio show recently.

"I'm just open," she said while promoting "Househusbands of Hollywood," the new Fox Reality series featuring her and husband Grant Reynolds.

But when it came to the reality of promoting the reality show, Reynolds and her husband shut down. The couple pulled out of an interview with the Los Angeles Times at the last minute, after their appearance at the press tour.

The withdrawal came shortly after reporters questioned Grant Reynolds about a recent Times column that blasted his wife's comments and questioned her appropriateness. Grant Reynolds downplayed the column, saying, "It's just critics. You're going to have good and you're going to have bad. It's the second page of The Times, which is that skinny right now."

Even though both Reynoldses had agreed to be interviewed before the session, representatives for the couple said they were too fearful to follow through on their commitment. "It's too hot a topic," one said.

David Lyle, president of the Fox Reality Channel, said he was "disappointed" that the couple did not honor the commitment: "But in the end, these folks are individuals, and they make individual decisions."

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mara.elena.fernandez@ latimes.com

greg.braxton@latimes.com

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