Well, well, well. So it seems rogue CNN host Lou Dobbs became such a pain in the company’s behind that they coughed up big money for him to finally shut his yap.
Dobbs used to host a show called Moneyline. I was never a fan. He has an over-the-top, overly self-important delivery that smacks of a huge ego and I found it a turn-off. And that was before he hijacked his own show. It started slowly, with little “spontaneous” rants that went off topic. But then he took the program so far off track that CNN actually changed the name to Lou Dobbs Tonight. You can’t call a program Moneyline if its host refuses to talk about money and instead raves about immigration, illegal aliens and the like, over and over and over. He attracted a loyal following of like-minded viewers who wanted to erect a (figurative) impermeable wall around the good ol’ US of A. Lately he’d been focused on the conspiracy theory that President Obama is actually a foreigner and wasn’t, as all evidence shows, born in Hawaii.
So last Wednesday Dobbs abruptly quit on the air. Now it’s been revealed that a fed-up CNN management gave him an $8 million severance to get him to leave. (Is anyone at my radio station sick of me? I mean, really, a fraction of that amount would convince me to go!) Now Dobbs is apparently considering a run at political office. Maybe he’ll end up over at FOX news where he’ll fit in perfectly with the conspiracy-minded collection of nutbars on staff there.
The point that broadcasters need to take away from this is, it’s not your show – not really. When you get your own show it’s with the understanding that you will behave within parameters set out by the owners. You can’t, for example, host a program on a greatest hits station and start playing new music because that’s what you happen to like! Or vice versa. If you’re on the hottest kiddie station and you haul out a 1970’s track, you can expect to be toasted by your boss.
CNN only hung in with Dobbs as long as they did because of an iron clad contract and because he brought in a new crop of viewers to replace those who ran screaming when he changed focus. Ultimately, he lost his forum anyway. He gained a lot of money but that’s the exception rather than the rule. He’s playing in the big leagues and they don’t always work in logical ways. You don’t have to always play it safe but you play with fire when you go so far off message. We are not Lou Dobbs and we don’t work for CNN. For you or me, going rogue wouldn’t be nearly as lucrative in the end.