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Lou Dobbs was one of Ted Turner’s first recruits at the founding of CNN, where Dobbs hosted a show about politics for 30 years before leaving in November 2010 after clashing with then-network chief Jon Klein over his on-air commentaries about illegal immigrants and President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
In March 2011, Dobbs joined the Fox Business Network as host of Lou Dobbs Tonight, a show about economics and politics in the time slot against The Kudlow Report on CNBC. The third quarter marked the first time FBN beat CNBC in that slot in the 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. Ahead of Monday’s third and final presidential debate, Dobbs spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about who won this year’s debates, the role of a moderator, and talking politics with Turner.
THR: Who won the most recent presidential debate?
Dobbs: You’d have to give it to Candy Crowley. She masterfully took over the debate and determined the outcome.
THR: I think you’re saying she was biased — so in whose favor?
Dobbs: I don’t know that it’s bias. I just don’t think that a moderator ever made those choices, and it was groundbreaking, so she created a little history.
THR: You’re awfully vague. What specifically did she do that was groundbreaking?
Dobbs: When a moderator intervenes and becomes a fact-checker and asserts what she later acknowledged was a false statement that corroborated a false statement by the president, it’s historic.
THR: Who are you supporting in the presidential election?
Dobbs: Supporting — I am not. Choosing — I am. It’s time for everybody to choose prosperity and a new direction for the country.
THR: And that means you’re voting for who?
Dobbs: I never talk about who I am voting for.
THR: Who won the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden or Paul Ryan?
Dobbs: It was a pretty clear win for the viewing audience. It was very entertaining.
THR: Why don’t you like to use specific names in your answers?
Dobbs: I can tell you who was entertaining and who was over the top, silly as hell, but I’ll leave it to the audience to declare who won.
THR: Okay, who was over the top and silly as hell?
Dobbs: I think it’s pretty clear to everybody — the guy who was grinning ear to ear irrespective of the subject.
THR: Do you have a suggestion for fixing the economy?
Dobbs: I think I’ve offered it – change direction in leadership. We can’t stand much more of what we’ve got. We have 23 million people unemployed. They’re America’s forgotten people. It’s the damndest thing that this much collateral damage is acceptable to this administration.
THR: Can you tell me one thing the president has done right?
Dobbs: He’s been boffo at fundraising – 220 fundraisers, and he raised something approaching $1 billion.
THR: And one thing he did wrong?
Dobbs: I don’t think we need to deal with just one thing. Look at where we are now compared to where we were when he walked into office. It’s not a happy path.
THR: You were there for the founding of CNN. Did you ever talk politics with Ted Turner?
Dobbs: Quite often. Usually with a great deal of excitement, because he has one political view and I have another. Despite our politics,we’ve agreed to be friends.
THR: Turner recently lamented the amount of fluff on CNN. You have any suggestions for improving CNN?
Dobbs: My council to Ted is that he should watch Fox Business. He’ll be elated to find how much substance there is in our news.
THR: Why did you leave CNN — twice?
Dobbs: It was in all the papers. It’s not my thing to look backwards. You can read all about that.
THR: Lots of people attacked you for your views on illegal immigration when you were at CNN. What are those views?
Dobbs: I’ve made it clear in my reporting that we need a rational, effective and humane system. I don’t support amnesty, and for that reason amnesty groups attack me. That’s fine, it’s a free country. Their attacks don’t give me too much concern.
THR: You appeared in The Good Wife. Do you enjoy acting?
Dobbs: I loved it. The people I worked with were supportive, and I’m flattered that you would call what I did ‘acting.’
THR: Would you like to do more of that?
Dobbs: I think there are enough professional actors to fill in for me in my absence. I enjoyed it, but I can’t imagine a role that would be interesting beyond playing myself.
THR: What do you expect from the third presidential debate Monday night?
Dobbs: I think these debates — including the vice presidential debate — have been terrific. They’ve been entertaining and surprising and, look at the ratings, they’ve been holding up. It’s certainly must-see television.
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