Lately, immigrant-hating CNN maniac Lou Dobbs is getting a lot of publicity for giving airtime to “birthers” — people who are convinced by the aliens who control their minds via chips installed during anal probes that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, instead of Hawaii.
Some of you know that before I was a jewelry designer, I was a journalist for, among other places, CNN. But I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that my boss at CNN was Lou Dobbs, who was a serious financial journalist at the time. He was insane even then, mind you, but he was able to maintain the appearance of semi-normalcy on the air. Sometimes. While I was at CNN, I used to joke with MrB (who has long known Lou professionally) that I was going to write a roman a clef about my crap job and name the boss something totally unrecognizable like … oh, I don’t know … “Boo Lobbs.”
Even as Boo Lobbs became increasingly crazy over the past few years, I refrained from saying anything about him for several reasons:
- I’m a nice person.
- I don’t like to burn bridges.
- Boo’s wife is armed and dangerous.
- Mr. and Mrs. Lobbs came to my wedding in 2001 (groom’s side, obvs!).
But seriously, folks, Lou/Boo is out there on TV flaunting his nuttiness in front of the world, so why should I hold back any longer? My theory of how he came to be where he is today might even make you like him a little better — or at least pity him a bit. Because in my opinion, it’s his sadly unquenchable thirst for fame and fortune that drove him around the bend.
When I got to CNN in 1995, Lou was the anchor of a business-news program called Moneyline. (I didn’t work directly on the show, thank God. I worked at CNNfn, CNN’s now-defunct financial news network, which fed stories to Moneyline. Lou was the overlord of CNNfn.) By 1998, the dot-com bubble was underway and Lou saw a lot of people getting super-super-rich. Lou was a pretty big star in the business-news/CNN world, and he was rich but he wasn’t super-super-rich like a dot-com guy. He started to get more unruly at work. As I recall, he tried to find out if he could do a dot-com job AND be on Moneyline but, hello, “conflict of interest.” Finally, in 1999, he fought with CNN’s president on air and then quit days later to found something called Space.com. I had just left CNN to become managing editor of People.com. The big Lou blow-up happened on one of my first days at People, maybe even my first day — it was the day of the Columbine school shooting, which I remember well because People had failed to set up a computer for me so I spent the whole day wandering around, feeling very self-conscious about being unable to do any work. (Wikipedia has an accurate description of Lou’s on-air tantrum here. There’s more detail in a 1999 New York Times story here.)
Space.com was and is for space and astronomy news. I think we can all see the lack of economic potential in that. Trust me, hindsight is not needed. Oh, how we all laughed at the time. But Lou was blind to the foolishness of his effort till the dot-com bubble burst and he went crawling back to CNN in 2001. Well, according to some accounts, CNN founder and fellow lunatic Ted Turner begged him to come back but I personally think most of those accounts are in Lou’s imagination. I mean, come on. The man wasn’t any richer and was definitely less famous. Who’d have to beg him for anything? Anyway, after Lou went back to CNN to do general news as well as business news, there was a whole lotta nothing. As I recall, CNN had lost market share to the whack-jobs on Fox News and ratings-wise, Lou’s return from outer space wasn’t exactly the arrival of the Messiah.
Then, in 2006, Dobbs said a few nasty words about immigrants and, lo and behold, people were interested in him again. He got attention. He even got ratings. And ever since then, in my eyes, he’s been ratcheting up his hate talk in an endless quest for more attention and higher ratings. He’s a fame addict. And that’s what makes me a little sad for him, because I question whether he, deep down, believes his own words. He just knows he has to say them to get his fame fix. Now that it may be backfiring on him at last, I predict Lou’s next big television credit will be as a guest on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. But can you really cure someone of famewhoredom on TV? Doubt it.
UPDATED TO ADD: Thanks to gorgeous blogger Alicia for sharing this highlarious Boondocks clip of Ann Coulter doing it for the money.
Yes, it’s totally an X-Files-style conspiracy, complete with forged birth certificates and news editing since 1961 – what? Really? It’s amazing that anyone believes this crazy crap and that it’s even a news story. I CANNOT believe you worked for him!!! Good God, you must have some stories!
Bahahahahaha!!! I am showing this clip to my father TONIGHT. We looooove the one they did about BET.
I’ll have to ask somebody about that . . .
You do have access to a good first-hand source, KD 😉
SOMETHING PICASSO says
This was so intriguing to read, I felt like I was reading an expose… which I guess I was?
In response to your comment: Yes! If the mickey tee and the shoes had babies, I’m sure they would make a hybrid that looked like those shoes youshowed me, hahaha.
Gerri Ward says
You know I always thought he was a looney just not from the toons but the BIN !!!
I told Ron the other day when we were talking about this whole birther stupidity that watching Lou Dobbs is like tracking one man’s descent into madness. Well, looks like he was always crazy!
Well, it makes sense that you’re such a good storyteller. Guess you’re more than just a pretty face and set of nimble hands 🙂
Sister Wolf says
He is driving me out of my mind. I nearly wrote a letter to CNN last night. Make it stop, Wendy!
That’s an awesome story and sounds like you have hit the nail on the head! I don’t watch Lou Dobbs or CNN (or Fox or any other news channel) but I did hear he was head of the “birthers”. What an idiot.
I just finished reading a book “Scorpion Tongues: gossip, celebrity and american politics”. It was fascinating because ridiculous gossip and haters have been targeting politicians since George Washington. Too bad the book was published in 1999 because there was so much more to come!
Imelda Matt says
GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! This one post has given me so much material…I love how his wife just boarded a plane with a loaded handgun…fucking wingnuts, bless ’em.
La Belette Rouge says
LOVE this post!!! You are too much. I so want you to write that book. I want to read it. Please!!!! And, OMG, the next time I have a Nora Ephron moment in which I feel bad about my neck I am going to look at that picture of Lou.
O…M…G…thank you so much for sharing. Excellent analysis and insight.
And congratulations on your new Francis blog. I have been out of the blogosphere moving and traveling. I am not as good as you at multitasking. So glad to be back and catching up with my favorites. And sooo glad I did not miss this post.
This is the most awesome story I’ve ever read about Boo Loobs. And the Ann Coulter clip is hilarious — “cuz a bitch got books to sell” is just awesome.
Wendy, I always enjoy reading your blog. Now that I know about your thoughts about the craziness of these people, I am even more of a fan. You rock!
It seems that this very vocal group is taking most of the bandwidth on the airwaves nowadays. It’s time for us to try to fight back with as much tenacity as they do. I don’t know how to do that effectively, but postings such as yours are a step in the right direction.
Thanks for sharing with us.
Thanks for your comment, Clint. I’m at a loss about what to do with people who deny facts that are provably true. Starting to think most of humanity is crazy!
lou dobbs is a moron. he has many idiotic views, and that seems to be all the rage in journalism right now. so aggravating. long live jon stewart and stephen colbert, as i love how they expose all this stuff and make me laugh while they do it.