Double Standard? Lou Dobbs Fires Back at Nation 'Smear Piece'

PHOTO Lou Dobbs talks to "Good Morning America," on allegations that his company employed illegal workers.PlayABC News
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Lou Dobbs, the former CNN anchor who reportedly relied on illegal immigrants to care for his horses and properties, said a "smear piece" in the Nation magazine by Isabel MacDonald had held him to a double standard.

"I never, ever used a contractor as a way in which to indirectly hire an illegal immigrant purposefully. Never, never, never," Dobbs said on "Good Morning America."

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The article, titled "Lou Dobbs, American Hypocrite," does not state that Dobbs directly hired illegal workers but that contractors he employed did, suggesting that he should be held liable.

Dobbs has criticized employers who hire illegal workers, previously suggesting they should face felony charges.

"What this is akin to is saying Robin Roberts -- [the] building she lives in, whether a co-op or apartment or whatever it may be -- she's supporting illegal immigration because someone else hired an illegal immigrant in that house. It's fatuous, it's specious, it's really a sad commentary," Dobbs said.

Dobbs insisted he did ask the landscaping firm at his West Palm Beach, Fla., home for assurances that there would be no illegal immigrants working on his property, but there was no legal way he could guarantee that.

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"Unless you're asking me and millions of other Americans to engage in racial profiling, because that's the only way you can satisfy the objections that the Nation has raised, that would be racial profiling on my part to make sure this thing doesn't happen. That's what you're suggesting," he said.

"I have never hired an illegal immigrant, never will. None of my companies have hired illegal immigrants, and we work very hard to make certain we do not do so," he said.

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MacDonald, who made her third head-to-head appearance with Dobbs since publication of the report, has questioned "where the buck stops" when it comes to accountability of people who rely on illegal immigrants while concurrently opposing them.

"What I'm afraid is falling out of this discussion that I've been having for a couple days now with Lou is the working conditions of the workers who have been caring for his show jumping horses and have been caring for the grounds on his estate," she said.

On Dobbs' radio show Thursday, MacDonald disputed Dobbs' assertion that the article is filled with "outrageous claims."

"I am saying that for years, undocumented immigrants looked after your show jumping horses, and for years, they looked after the grounds at your West Palm Beach estate in Florida. This article is fact-checked 100 percent. It is legally vetted," she said.

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"I had been told that they were absolutely legal," Dobbs said of the workers. "And you were told the same thing … and you didn't mention that in your piece."

For her Nation story, MacDonald interviewed at least five undocumented immigrants who were hired by Dobbs. Some were brought on to help take care of the horse Dobbs' 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, used in her professional career as a show jumper.

One man, named Rodrigo Ortega, told Macdonald about meeting Dobbs, who introduced himself in Spanish as "Luis." Ortega said that Dobbs "knew very well that the majority of us didn't have papers," but that "was never a problem."

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Lou Dobbs After CNN

Dobbs, 65, left CNN abruptly in November 2009. He joined the network when it launched in 1980 and, in his later years there, used his nightly program, "Lou Dobbs Tonight," as a soapbox for rants on illegal immigration, federal spending and President Obama.

For years, in his "Broken Borders" segment, Dobbs warned of dangers he said illegal immigrants posed; he ran a false report on the number of leprosy cases in the United States reputedly caused by Mexican immigrants. He also railed against many plans that called for a path to legalization for illegal immigrants. Protests and campaigns were launched to get CNN to "dump Dobbs."

Despite the furor, Dobbs said his next move after CNN might be in the political arena.

"I was thinking about running for office, thinking about politics," he told ABC News' Nightline in January. "A number of people have asked me to think about president, Senate, and as I have said, it's flattering. It's heavy stuff. And I would be lying if I told you I wasn't enamored at various junctures of my thinking, with the idea."

ABC News' Melinda Arons contributed reporting.