LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lou Dobbs, the pugnacious former CNN news anchor who flirted with the idea of running for president, is back where he wants to be, hosting a television show and free from his old network.
The veteran newsman is hosting an hour-long weeknight program for Fox Business Network debuting on Monday and getting him “back to business,” as the promotional campaign says.
Harvard-educated Dobbs began his career at CNN as a straight-ahead financial journalist. But by the time he left in 2009 after nearly 30 years, he had become its most populist anchor by expressing anger against illegal immigration and jobs going overseas, among other topics.
For a time after his departure from CNN, Dobbs considered the idea of banking on his popular appeal from years in front of the camera to campaign for U.S. president. But the 65-year-old has decided against that.
“Politics is not what I love to do. This is what I’m going to do,” he told Reuters.
Dobbs’ new show on Fox Business Network is called “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” the same title as his last program on CNN, and it will air at 7 p.m. eastern time.
The show will tackle big issues of the day, from the debt crisis facing the federal government and states, to the failure of the economic recovery to generate job growth, he said.
“The issues that confront the American people are now clearly in focus, because they’re hard to avoid: Job creation the creation of wealth, restoring prosperity, restoring the American dream for millions of Americans.”
Dobbs started at CNN with its launch in 1980 as the host of “Moneyline,” which became a premier destination for business news on television in an era before the rise of CNBC.
He later expanded his scope to deal with more social and political issues, on his program.
Dobbs had a sometimes caustic relationship with management, at one time finding himself at odds with then CNN/U.S. president Jonathan Klein over Dobbs’ coverage of the so-called “birther” debate — the claim by detractors of President Barack Obama that he was born outside the U.S.
Dobbs did not rule out taking up the “birther” issue on his new Fox Business show, but he stressed that he believes the president was indeed born in the United States.
He also said that he has no lingering regrets about leaving CNN. “I’ve noticed that they’re in my rear view mirror and getting smaller,” he said.
Since its launch in 2007, News Corp-owned Fox Business has struggled against the dominance in U.S. financial TV news of rival CNBC, a unit of Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal Media.
Fox Business is available in more than 50 million U.S. homes, compared to 100 million for CNBC.
Kevin Magee, executive vice president of the Fox Business Network, said Dobbs’ new show will be more business-focused than his recent work at CNN.
“The promo line that we’re using is ‘Lou Dobbs back to business,’ and in fact he is,” Magee said. “He has always been a terrific business mind.”
In fact, Dobbs recently appeared on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” which is hosted by Bill O’Reilly, to discuss business topics such as labor unions and jobs in the United States as well as the economic fallout from the earthquake in Japan.
Media industry watchers had expected that instead of focusing on business, Dobbs might go to Fox News, which features on-air personalities such as conservative Sean Hannity and libertarian Glenn Beck who often express their opinions more than news anchors at CNN.
Dobbs said he likes the Fox brand, and has for some time.
“I have to confess that I watched Fox far more than I watched anyone else,” he said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte