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Lou Dobbs: ‘True Believer or Ideological Mercenary?’

Fortune‘s David A. Kaplan talks with former CNN host Lou Dobbs, who’s now been off the airwaves — the TV ones anyway — for nearly two months.

Right now, depending on whom you ask, Dobbs is the most despised, or best-loved broadcaster in America. The questions about his identity matter, especially as Dobbs says he’s contemplating a third-party run for national office in 2012, either the U.S. Senate, or, incredibly, the White House.

The old Lou, if a bit of a Wall Street sycophant, showed mastery of subject and tonal modulation. In short, he knows better. The new Lou, evoking the Howard Beal ‘mad as hell’ character in Network, is more about heat than light — and he’s not even particularly good at it compared with other firebrands on the air. His populism often seems like calculation by any other name. Lou Dobbs has traded in journalism for the carnival.

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