On Monday night, Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly stood up for CNN’s Lou Dobbs who was facing growing criticism and calls by some groups, to be removed from CNN over his coverage of the birther movement.
On Tuesday, publicists who represent United Stations Radio Networks, the producer of Dobbs’ radio show, reached out to The O’Reilly Factor and pitched Dobbs as a guest for O’Reilly’s Wednesday show. Scheduling conflicts reportedly got in the way. But TVNewser has learned there is more to it.
In an interview this afternoon, O’Reilly Factor producer Ron Mitchell told TVNewser, representatives from SKH Music reached out to the show around 1pmET Tuesday. “Three to four conversations” later they were still “very non-committal,” Mitchell says. Mitchell says publicist Keith Hagan was in the room with Dobbs as they tried “to lock [the interview] down. It was represented as Lou wanted to come on,” Mitchell says.
Hagan had no comment for this story.
So did CNN prevent Dobbs from going on, or did the all-too-often “scheduling conflict” get in the way? That’s not clear, but considering the days of negative publicity the story had already generated (by the way, CNN is not commenting on this story related to Dobbs), CNN distancing itself from Dobbs’ radio comments, and the competitive nature of cable news, you can see why CNN execs wouldn’t want Dobbs anywhere near O’Reilly.
But the booking could have been a boon for Dobbs — speaking to O’Reilly’s 3+ million nightly viewers, about five times greater than Dobbs’ audience. And he would have done it in front of a crowd sympathetic to his point of view.
So, for now, The O’Reilly Factor is still waiting for an answer from the publicists. “The bottom line is Lou Dobbs is welcome on this show,” Mitchell tells TVNewser. “Bill has defended his right to say what he said. He doesn’t agree, he doesn’t want him fired, and he’s certainly welcome on the show.”
Booking Your Cable Competitor
This story also got us thinking about the policies the cable networks have for booking talent from a competitor network.
CNN Spokesperson Christa Robinson tells TVNewser, “We do not have an official policy. The booking decisions are made on a case by case basis.” A Fox spokesperson also told us the requests are made on a case by case basis. MSNBC too, has no concrete policy but generally competitor bookings are not allowed, but, again, decisions are made on a case by case basis.