Lou Dobbs, who left CNN almost exactly a year go in a fuss over his strident views on immigration, has signed a deal with the Fox Business Network. He'll host a program starting early next year and will appear on various other shows on the network. “FOX Business has always been about putting the
smartest, most interesting people on television," said Kevin Magee, Fox Biz executive vice president, in announcing the move on Wednesday.
Dobbs, who spent nearly three decades as a CNN anchor in two separate stints at the network, resigned with a surprising on-air announcment on Nov. 11, 2009, after repeated clashes with his bosses about his commentaries denouncing illegal immigration. There had also been controversy over Dobbs' challenges to President Obama to produce his birth certificate, though most of those took place on his nationally syndicated radio show.
Though there was widespread speculation at the time of his resignation that Dobbs would head for Fox News or Fox Business, officials at the two networks also shrugged it off, saying there had been no talks. The timing of Wednesday's announcement suggests Dobbs' CNN contract may have had a non-compete clause that kept him off rival cable-news nets.
How many viewers Dobbs will draw to Fox Business, which three years after its launch still mostly lags behind chief competitor CNBC, is an open question. At one time, he was certainly a marquee name in cable news. But toward the end of his tenure at CNN, Dobbs was drawing less than 700,000 viewers and finishing behind both Fox News and MSNBC in his time slot. Whether those numbers reflect dwindling viewer interest in Dobbs or were merely part of the overall ratings collapse at CNN over the past couple of years is a question that will soon be answered.
UPDATE: Hey, guess who's doing an interview on Fox Business News Thursday? Dobbs' old boss Ted Turner, who stops by at 2 p.m. That should be an interesting conversation.