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.
Well, that makes sense.
I fully believe something similar about Ann Coulter:
Midtown Girl says
I watch CNN pretty much all day while working. However, I often change the channel when Dobbs show is on..somehow his “Independent” stance seems to be more bull than “no-bias”. It’s quite annoying.
Btw, I heard he is a chain smoker. Maybe he should chain smoke while baking in a tanning bed…
I don’t understand this whole “He wasn’t born in the US the birth certificate is FAKE” stuff about Obama.
Last I heard Hawaii was a US state and has been since 1959.
Hawaii has produced the birth certificate numerous times and must get pretty annoyed that these wackos keep insisting they show it to them.
It’s one of those things we will constantly have to hear about and it’s too bad that people like Dobbs keep the fires burning on this topic.
Midtown, he was definitely a smoker when I knew him and he used to annoy people by smoking in the office even though that was banned by then. But he was above the law when it came to tobacco, he thought. I have no idea if he still has that filthy habit.
Robyn Hawk says
WOW – that was an eye opener – there have been some really good articles lately about Boo on AlterNet!
So salacious! the birther thing is hilarious to me. I love nutjobs though, how else could I grow up in Kansas?
this wheel's on fire says
wow i can’t imagine working for that wacko! good job staying sane 🙂
Topaz Horizon says
While I found this all very eye-opening, I was more amazed at the fact that my blogger friend WendyB:
(a) was a CNN journalist
(b) was managing editor of People.com
I am in the presence of greatness!
P.S. I plan to have a career just like yours, WB. After this magazine editor stint, I want to do something really creative with my hands, be an entrepreneur, create a business that will really help others.
Wow. Impressive stats about the guest list at your wedding. Next time I get married I’m putting you on the guest list so I can claim my own celebrity.
Wendy, what an impressive C.V. you have…
I used to watch CNNfn, I’ll have to check my DVR and see if I have any old Moneyline episodes recorded 😉
Shrimpton Couture says
Honey I think you just reached Perez Hilton status as far as nicknaming a “celeb” I foresee that Boo just landed himself a new nickname and will giggle upon its first “mainstream” use outside this blog
Fascinating! I’ve been following some of this “birther” schlock and find it amazing that anyone takes it seriously, made all the much more so dumbfounding given their hilarious spokesmodel, Orly Taitz. I do hope she never goes away, the woman is superbly wacko.
deja pseu says
Fascinating stuff! He’s really hitched his wagon to the team of mules dashing straight toward the cliff. In a way, I think it’s almost worse if he’s cynical enough to promote that kind of hate and bigotry purely for ratings. That goes beyond ignorant and misguided nutjob into downright evil territory.
That’s what really gets me – the fact that these wackadoodles on fox, etc, don’t even believe what they’re saying, they just do it for the ratings.
Anyhoo, thanks for the interesting inside perspective!
wow you can tell he is a fame whore. i am so not surprised. dad and i call him the male nancy grace.
prunella jones says
Oooo insider information! I love to hear the behind-the-scenes dirt. Good stuff!
I’ve always thought of Lou Dobbs as a boring old uncle at the family reunion who rants on and on about “those dadgummed Mexicans” but I have noticed his insanity levels rising lately. CNN seems to be turning into FOX lite. The only reason to watch it anymore is for the hawt hunkiness that is Anderson Cooper.
Living in the UK I know nothing of this man or this story, but it (and he) sounds pretty ridiculous.
You are so much more than a designer with mad skills, and I knew you’d be smarter than smart! Interesting developments with the nutjob…and kudos to you for staying sane.
Loved this post too.
Have a lovely week m’dear
I share your insight about Dobbs not necessarily even believing his own schtick (sp?). I suspect the same thing about a lot of far-right (and maybe one or two far-left) pundits.
I’ve always changed the channel whenever Lou has appeared, mostly because I thought I’d fall asleep while he droned on. I didn’t realize that I was missing out on so much crazy!
Jesus, Wendy. Your life is FASCINATING. I want you to write more about your time at People next!
Some Guy says
Thanks for this fascinating post. I love reading insider stuff like this!
Goddess was my word…gotta like that!
I don’t watch any of the news shows. For this very reason. Very interesting post Wendy!
And can you fix it so I don’t have to sign in everytime I want to leave a comment?
Cafe Fashionista says
This post rocks. I commend you for divulging such insider stuff. I felt like I was reading a grocery store tabloid. Love it! 🙂
Sad that he’d whore for fame, but even sadder to think that he’d say hateful, inflammatory things that he doesn’t even believe just to get attention. Yuck.
WOW – thanks for your honesty. that is just so sad…. celebrity rehab it is….
Vegetable Assassin says
I don’t know what it is about him, but he always makes me think that he’s a parody of himself – like someone playing him on an SNL skit or something. He just has that “I am crazy as Ted Kennedy” look in his eyes. I can’t explain it. But this was a very interesting read miss B.
Miss Janey says
Miss J LOVES to hear about Miss Wendy’s pre-jewelry life as a journalist, even if it means seeing photos of that whack-job Boo Lobbs. It’s fascinating.
Sadly Miss J has a whole contingent of southern-fried relates who are happy to feed Boo Lobb’s insatiable appetite for fame. Their own insanity isn’t enough for them- they are mesmerized by the extreme craziness of others.
It is awesome that you were managing editor of People.com! I’m sorry that you did have a bit of a nutcase of a boss in Lou Dobbs. I always turn CNN whenever his face shows up on my screen. I mean, I can’t even look at him from an objective point of view because he just spews “crazy” for me. Glad you got out of there and moved on.
oh my… i can only imagine how crazy this guy must be… he barely makes any sense on tv, the clips i see anyway…
as for this obama not being a citizen business, what kind of idiot thinks HAWAII is not a state? it’s been a state for a while now…
oh yeah, and btw… i love the fact that this whole controversy is being brought up probably by the same people who think arnold schwarzenegger should run for president.
I don’t watch CNN, but holy smokes, this guy sounds like a nut job. I guess if you think of him as a fame addict you could muster some pity in yourself for him, but wow. Just wow.
AsianCajuns (Lauren) says
You are hilarious, WendyB, and Lou/Boo is hilarious (to read about). You are the much preferred kind of hilarious 😉
My bf and I watched him do his crazy dance again and again during the presidential election coverage – I suppose that’s what keeps his ratings up: his entertaining crazy dance (ack! I had a hand in his famewhoredom!).
Thumbelina Fashionista says
I swear Wendy you have the BEST stories. (You have to share that “Anne Klein 2” story too.) Really fascinating on all fronts.
P.S. I HATE Ann Coulter. REALLY HATE.
I agree that Boo Lobbs probably doesn’t believe his own bullshit, but plenty of right wing nutzos apparently do. He’s guilty of riling up the crazies for his own fame fix, which is worse than just being crazy himself.
And it is people like this who are leading to the degradation of the news system.
Miss Cavendish says
“Birther” has to be the most opaque term coined for a so-called political “scandal.” And Boo Lobbs is a fool for waving that particular flag.
I also remember the days in the 1990s when Bill O’Reilly was a laughably bad host of Inside Edition . . . could never believe how he made the transition to a talking head format.
Your jewelry is so so amazing!
Wow…very interesting story, to the say the least! I will surely buy your book, Boo Lobbs in it or not.
Wow, too, at the CNN and People.com jobs!!! I’ve long admired your writing style.
what an interesting career you have had! this was so great to read!!
there’s good crazy and there’s bad crazy and lou is def. baaaaad crazy. i can’t imagine working for him. he should be on i’m a celebrity get me out of here.
he is not one of my favorites.
That Boondocks episode is gold. I would love to read a book about Lou Dobbs if you wrote it!
And I forgot all about his wife’s- gun incident lol!
I am SO impressed by your previous jobs! Now I know where your writing talent comes from 😉
As for that other guy….not worth mentioning…
I never watch/listen to Lou or Ann. I like to keep my food down, not hurl it all over the place.
What a great post, Miss Wendy. I love it!
Couture Carrie says
I can’t stand Ann Coulter – ick!
P.S. Thanks for the link to the adorable pup!
I. Grace says
Wow, thanks for sharing your insider story!
I haven\’t been watching TV lately but don\’t really care so much for him. I can\’t concentrate on whatever he\’s saying coz his double chin is so hypnotic, I just end up staring at it. =)
…And I\’ll stand by the President I voted even if he was born in Mars!! =)
Belle de Ville says
Wendy, I’ll take your word that Lou Dobbs is a total douche. And, no matter how much I think that Lou Dobbs is a complete blowhard….Someone…somewhere…has got to talk about the problem of ILLEGAL immigration.
Note: I am a huge proponent of LEGAL immigration and it hurts our country when highly educated and skilled people can’t get visas.
But, for anyone who doesn’t understand the economic ramifications of ILLEGAL immigration, I invite you to come on down to my So Cal barrio and see the economic havoc that has been wreaked on California by unchecked ILLEGAL immigration.
Don’t take my word for it, ask any teacher, nurse, fireman or police officer.
I must lodge one protest against your comment, Belle: Calling Boo Lobbs a douche is insulting to Summer’s Eve