CNN’S KLEIN BACKS OFF DOBBS CONCERNS…. CNN President Jon Klein contacted staffers for “Lou Dobbs Tonight” this week to explain that the Birther story, which the conservative host is oddly obsessed with, is baseless. “It seems this story is dead,” Klein said in his email, “because anyone who still is not convinced doesn’t really have a legitimate beef.” The CNN chief added that there is no doubt about where the president was born.

After receiving Klein’s note, Dobbs proceeded to keep talking about the “story” anyway. This, oddly enough, does not bother the CNN president at all. Greg Sargent reported late yesterday:

Klein, in an interview with me just now, also took a shot at Dobbs’ critics, saying they’re politically motivated: “I understand that people with a partisan point of view from one extreme or another might get annoyed that certain subjects are aired.” […]

“Look, Lou’s his own show, and CNN in general has repeatedly and thoroughly reported on the facts behind this situation,” Klein said to me, adding that Lou had merely hosted “a few conversations with people representing a wide range of opinions.”

Klein said that Dobbs has repeatedly stated that he believes that Obama was born in Hawaii, and has simply been examining the “phenomenon that for some people this won’t go away.”

The CNN president said he wants to let viewers “make up their own minds.”

I’m not sure how this qualifies as “journalism.” The “phenomenon … won’t go away” because clowns like Dobbs keep telling viewers there this is a legitimate subject of discussion. It’s not. There’s nothing wrong with letting viewer make up their own minds about subjective political controversies, but CNN is giving its audience mixed messages — reports saying the case is closed, coupled with reports saying there are lingering questions.

A responsible outlet is supposed to report the truth, not present viewers with contradictory messages, leaving them to go elsewhere to sort out reality. This has nothing to do with a “partisan point of view,” and everything to do with a major news outlet repeatedly lending credence to a bizarre conspiracy theory.

Klein added that Dobbs’ coverage of the right-wing conspiracy has been “legitimate.” He didn’t say why.

As for Klein telling the show that the story “seems dead,” only to see the show keep pushing the nonsense anyway, Media Matters’ Eric Burns raises a good point: “This raised the troubling question of who is really calling the shots at CNN.”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.