John Towriss, CNN’s former Deputy Washington Bureau Chief writes about the Lou Dobbs he knew. Towriss spent 22 years at CNN, departing in 2002.
I’ve been gone from CNN for a half dozen years but during my 21 years there and as another CNN original like Lou Dobbs I had chance to interact with Lou several times during my career and have stayed in occasional touch with Lou since leaving CNN. I’m no different than many both inside and outside CNN who have winced at some of the things Lou has said in recent years as he has become increasingly more opinionated on the air. The move towards opinion journalism has become a tide that few news executives — including CNN’s current top guy — Jon Klein — seem able to stop. Some news execs have encouraged it, especially as FOX News ratings have soared. Phil Griffin (another former colleague) at MSNBC has embraced it in prime time. As an admitted journalism “purist” I don’t like it but it has washed over almost everything in news today making much news coverage barely distinguishable from blogs, commentary or anyone with a Twitter account (my view and understand if some would disagree).
Interestingly, like most things with Lou, he saw it before most of the others did and rode the front of the wave not the back. Even Lou’s critics would have to admit that Lou is a “leading edge” guy not a “trailing indicator” guy. I’ve listened to and read many of Lou’s critics — who are having a field day since Wednesday night’s announcement that he was leaving — and some make salient points. But I have to square that criticism with the Lou Dobbs I know personally, from places many of his critics are unaware, will never be and wouldn’t know how to find anyway.