There are currently two different Lou Dobbs‘. There’s Radio Lou Dobbs, who regularly unloads on Keith Olbermann, continues chatting about Kenyan birth certificates and generally causes a ruckus. Then there’s TV Lou Dobbs, who hasn’t mentioned the birther debate in awhile, hosts a more focused show and only generally gets in trouble when hammering illegal immigration.
But several stories this week describe the possibility Radio Lou Dobbs is hurting his TV counterpart.
Radio Lou Dobbs has only existed for a little more than a year – his show launched in March 2008. But in that short time he’s used the platform to expound on a broader range of topics, without the constraint of a major conglomerate over his head. Some of this has rubbed off on TV Lou Dobbs.
Jon Friedman of Marketwatch.com writes that Dobbs “has sold his journalistic soul to the devil.” (Sidenote: since Marketwatch is owned by News Corp. the link is from Foxbusiness.com. Just to add another layer to the saga.)
Dobbs definitely brought the birther debate onto his TV program, but the majority of it took place on radio. But Friedman writes it hasn’t helped, and may have hurt, his TV ratings.
According to CNN’s research, Dobbs has lost 31,000 total viewers in the past year. About 789,000 people were tuning into his show on a daily basis in June and July, down from 820,000 for the same period in 2008. It’s a decrease of 4%.
It took him a long time, but CNN President Jon Klein finally got around to doing what he should have done a long time ago. In order to maintain the professed trademark of his network for objectivity in broadcasting, he realized he had no choice but to fire Lou Dobbs.
Of course, cautious as he is, Klein did not fire the anti-immigration crusader directly, or even alone. He threw Dobbs overboard as part of a vendetta against radio talk-show hosts in general.
Obviously Dobbs isn’t getting fired. But Radio Lou Dobbs’ existence means TV Lou Dobbs gets thrown into discussions that involve the “noise” of talk radio. Dobbs has been a mainstay at CNN ever since its launch in 1980. And he’s evolved from a business guy to a news guy to an opinion guy. While TV Lou Dobbs has never shied away from controversy, there’s a good chance if he were to ever get fired for anything, it would be Radio Lou Dobbs’ fault.