In an odd moment in a career that has not exactly lacked for said moments, crotchety CNN host Lou Dobbs abruptly announced on-air today that he is leaving the network where he has worked most of three decades (and hence, most of its existence). Leaving as in today. From his statement:
Over the past six months, it’s become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us. And some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond my role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving, as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day. And to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible.
Not a few critics have said, in not as complimentary terms, that Dobbs could in fact better contribute to positive understanding of issues—by no longer hosting a CNN show. But what did Dobbs mean by it?
Dobbs gave little direct hint of his plans, except that he was considering “options,” and, indirectly, that it would somehow relate to the same advocacy that often made him an uncomfortable fit with CNN.
He’s caught heat for his fiery segments on “broken borders” and immigration and recently, for endorsing, or at least showing sympathy for, far-out theories that President Obama was not legally born in the United States and thus is not constitutionally eligible to be President. Press reports suggested that he had been talking to Fox News chief Roger Ailes, perhaps for a role on the Fox Business Network, though Dobbs announced no new job plans. And that “six months” time reference in his remarks suggests he sees a zeitgeisty moment in the tea-party era for his brand of cranky-old-man populism.
So maybe he has media/political/demagoguery plans in the works. On the other hand, he’s left the network before, for other, er, colorful reasons, founding the website space.com in 1999 before returning to CNN in 2001.
In any case, CNN abruptly loses a well-known host, but also immediately sheds a frequent PR problem; Dobbs said he met with CNN head Jon Klein, who agreed to release him from his contract early.
To what end, we’ll have to see. Politics? Another cable show? A swashbuckling crusade around the world in search of Obama’s real birth certificate? For the sake of the airport immigration inspectors that he’ll spent his free time haranguing if he doesn’t find new work soon, someone make the man an offer!