Dobbs says the website was set up merely to fill a vacuum. In an email to Campaign Desk, he wrote: “We began compiling our list of companies outsourcing jobs overseas because the information was not available anywhere, and we wanted to know how widespread the practice is, and report it to our viewers. The Labor and Commerce departments, the Business Roundtable, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have never kept records of jobs lost to outsourcing. Our list of corporations now exceeds 800, and grows daily.”


And he sees no contradiction in fingering outsourcers with one hand, while recommending the same companies as investment opportunities with the other: “[Y]ou seem to be suggesting that one cannot criticize corporate America without calling for its destruction,” he told us. “Or because one believes a company to be well-managed that’s its beyond criticism…Surely, you don’t believe that your readers or my viewers are incapable of abhorring a business practice, and at the same time acknowledging the success of a corporation?” He makes a distinction, he said, between bad practices and those who practice them.


But Dobbs’ newsletter doesn’t just “acknowledge” successful corporation. He goes further, painting his featured companies as good corporate citizens — and encourages readers to invest in them partly on that basis — without mentioning that they conduct business practices that, by his own admission, he “detests.”


Most of Dobbs’s CNN viewers don’t have access to the information in “Money Letter,” his investment guide. So the larger public sees only one Lou Dobbs: the outspoken anti-outsourcing crusader. The other Lou Dobbs is available only for that $398 fee. And that’s the Lou Dobbs who doesn’t appear to be putting his money where his mouth is.


Chase Behringer and Hali Felt of the Columbia Journalism Review contributed additional reporting to this story.

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.