Lou Dobbs: Shitty Employee

August 6, 2009
A general note:
I am in the process of quitting smoking. I was prepared for the withdrawal symptoms of restlessness and homicidal urges. What caught me completely unaware was the sluggishness. My brain only feels about half awake most of the time. The rest of the time it only thinks of cigarettes.
My brain apparently needs 15-20 solid hits of nicotine a day to get all of the synapses firing. I’m trying to power thru it, but I think my writing may be a bit off.
You may pick up on this. Feel free to say so in the comment box. Something like, “CLT was more clever/insightful/of an asshole when he was still smoking.” I won’t go back to smoking, if for no other reason than I’d rather not crowdsource my addictions. But I feel your pain.
I felt the same way back in the mid-90’s when I heard one of my favorite bands (Skinny Puppy) has kicked their collective smack habit. I thought, “Jesus, the new album is going to suck.” (It did.)
Without further ado, some smoke-free words about Lou Dobbs, CNN, journalism and capitalism.
Lou Dobbs rests on his laurels; touches self

Lou Dobbs rests on his laurels; touches self

Lots of general cacophony over at CNN and around the news arena as Lou Dobbs continues to patronize the “birthers,” a fringe group whole sole purpose in life is to prove that our President was not born in the U.S.

When I use the word “patronize,” I obviously don’t mean like I patronize Nickelback fans. This would be more like I patronize X Record Store because they make it a point to never, ever stock any Nickelback.

Lou Dobbs, 30 years in the cable news business, seems to have reached that point that nearly every employee does late in their career: the “fuck ’em, I’ll do it my way” stage. Most people with a lifetime of experience in one field seem to reach this point eventually. (Government employees reach this state of maturity in as little as 90 days.) As the world around them continues to change, they become a drag on the company, throwing their seniority around and generally behaving like entitled jackasses.

I’ve run into it in the retail field. Times are tight. Budgets are being cut. People are being cross-trained to help out wherever needed. But not the legacy acts. Those who have been with the company for years have decided that they only need to do the same job they’ve always done, and because of their seniority, should be allowed to put in less effort.

CNN is a company. A private cable channel that happens to broadcast news. Should they be held to a different standard than TNT, USA or Spike? They’ve set themselves up to a higher standard by their selected field, but it doesn’t mean they’re immune to market forces. Failing shows get cut out of the schedule all the time.

Should Dobbs be immune? He’s lost 15% of his viewers in the last year. His “birther” horse-corpse beating was labelled as “dead” by his boss. But he refuses to change. He feels entitled to handle it his way. Instead of helping out his struggling network, he’d rather bring it down from the inside with his misplaced superiority.

"Yellow Tie Night" down 38% in the 25-40 demographic

"Yellow Tie Night" down 38% in the 25-40 demographic

CNN certainly isn’t helping their case. They’ve turned into the worst kind of H.R. rep: the ineffectual busybody. They claim to support him. They try to block critical ads. They need to man up and cut the fucker loose. They’re a few bad moments away from third place behind FOX and MSNBC.

Companies with amazing reputations and the best intentions make these moves when times are tough, from Zappos selling to Amazon or Google dropping the free hot coffee and sensual massages at headquarters.

If he wants to do it his way, he can start punching his own timeclock. FOX says they want him. Let him go. He’ll fit right in with the overexcitable paranoiacs who are all about presenting the “FAIR” and “BALANCED” viewpoint.

I have no sympathy for Dobbs, whose urge to continue slumming it on the “high road” is becoming an embarrassment for everyone around him. I can hardly sympathize with CNN either, because of their unwillingness to make the correct decision. If Lou manages to hold onto his position, it will only encourage others like him to push as many buttons as they can. He’ll just stick around, making the rest of the team uncomfortable with his outdated jokes and weak bladder.

This kind of dustup is just another nail in journalism’s coffin. Newspaper and magazines are folding. TV news is having a hard time gaining viewers. Blogs and independent websites will fill in this gap without the baggage of having to be profitable. The world is quickly learning that you don’t need a degree to report the news.

All of the news networks act like they only want to bring you the best news from only the most qualified anchors, but they’d staff it with feces-hurling monkeys critiquing the latest “Girls Gone Wild” video if they thought they’d get a permanent net gain in viewers.

Let me just make something perfectly clear: I could give a fuck if Dobbs talks to “birthers” all day long or does nothing but show Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Contests. I honestly do not care if his integrity is unassailable and he’s got God in his hip pocket. Run your business like you mean it, CNN. His ratings are dying. Cut him loose.



  1. Totally agree, CLT. Lou was way more fun when he just hated Mexicans.

    • Hahahaha!!!

      He’ll never live that down. What a prick. I don’t get these insular Americans, who seem to forget too quickly that the actual natives are now on reservations and everybody else (that means you, Dobbs) are immigrants.

      Great to see you, TL.

  2. CLT,
    Oh dear. I’ve been where you are. I was there just four short months ago. It gets easier. I promise. Your brain will feel normal again.

    The best advice I got was a freind who said, “It starts with one day and before you know it, you look back and you’ve been smoke free for 22 years.”

    I smoked for 21 years. That means I was a smoker more of my life than I was a nonsmoker.

    Despite not being drugged, you’re still a genius.

    As a side note, the tag line at the top scares the hell out of me.

    • Thanks for the advice and compliments, Claire. I’m starting to feel a little more normal now, but the first couple of days were pretty brutal.

      The tag line is scary ’cause it’s true. But it should be down any day now.

      Great to see you, Claire.

  3. I disagree. CNN is acting like a company – just a poorly managed one.

    CNN has not dumped Dobbs is because he can still pull in the numbers, now and again. He is in the running against Matthews on MSNBC and occasionally out performs Blitzer and Brown.

    In general, Dobbs’ continued existence points to a lack of strategy at CNN. CNN does not seem to have any idea of how to reconcile its role in the “new media” with any sort of competitive advantage. I believe Dobbs’ survival is partly due to CNN’s effort to grab some conservative viewers from FOX. This isn’t working because a) Dobbs is not a conservative (he’ll tell you as much) and b) he’s not very entertaining. And yes, it is about entertainment.

    Good luck with quitting. My uncle told me that he had quit two “hard drugs” but could never quit smoking. However, that uncle invented two-thirds of his memories on the spot.

    • Nice to see you, Overconfident.

      I think you have a point there about CNN and I may have already agreed with you in my post, but worded it badly due to my brain’s constant screaming for nicotine.

      CNN is the dinosaur when it comes to cable news. They staked out the territory first, and as the media reinvents itself, those who were there first seem to have the hardest time adapting (print media, the RIAA, etc.)

      Dobbs may not be a conservative but he barks up all the right trees to earn a spot in FOX’s rotation. Immigration, birthers, yellow ties. He’d fit in beautifully.

      If CNN wants to continue to make awkward gestures to passing conservatives via Dobbs, they’re more than welcome to. They’ll just be gazing at the ass-end of MSNBC much earlier.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment (and sympathy re: smoking), Overconfident. As always, your input is greatly appreciated.

  4. I want to offer support for your ‘kicking the habit’ endeavor. Your smoke-free views do not seem to have suffered. I feel your pain.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Elizabeth. It’s a bitch of a habit to quit, and yet, all these heroin addicts cry the moment their syringe shatters.


  5. Call me a liar if you wish, but I got it on once with Lou’s secretary.

    • Not only is he lying, but he’s probably Mexican. Show me your birth certificate, you fornicating bastard.

      Despite all that, nice to see you, RR. 😉

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