Lou Dobbs, the voluble CNN anchor who became a political lightning rod for his outspoken views on immigration and global trade, is leaving the cable news network effective immediately, he announced on his show Wednesday night. Dobbs, one of the premier news broadcasters in the television business, was the last of the original anchors at CNN, which pioneered the cable news format 30 years ago. Dobbs's contract extended through the end of 2011, but he said CNN had agreed to let him leave early.
"Some leaders in the media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond my role here at CNN and engage in constructive problem-solving," said Dobbs, who had dubbed himself "Mr. independent" of late, adding that he aimed to stay involved in the national discourse.
Media speculation immediately focused on the possibility that Dobbs might join Fox News, the cable news leader, and CNN's arch-rival. Dobbs met with Roger Ailes, Fox News's head honcho, in September, according to The New York Times. The paper suggested that Dobbs might jump to Fox Business Channel, the company's struggling financial network.
On Wednesday, a Fox spokesperson told the paper, "We have not had any discussions with Lou Dobbs for Fox News or Fox Business."
For his part, Dobbs gave no specific hint of his next move. "I'm considering a number of options and directions," he said.
Dobbs, who has a strongly loyal following despite lagging ratings, had increasingly become the odd man out at CNN, which has sought to position itself as the credible news alternative to Fox News and MSNBC. The two have adopted more ideological orientations -- and seen a payoff in the ratings.
In recent years, Dobbs had become increasingly outspoken, becoming possibly one of the most vocal opponents of illegal immigration in the country. He has drawn the ire of various immigration-rights groups, who have accused him of anti-Latino bias, among other things. Dobbs has also been a highly vocal critic of the federal government's Wall Street bailout, as well as what he perceives is the general encroachment of government into the lives of citizens.
Dobbs had been at CNN for nearly 30 years, save for a two-year stint as a co-founder of the website Space.com during the Internet bubble. Earlier in his career, Dobbs covered business news. But in recent years, he has focused on national affairs. Don't be surprised to see him back, further on down the dial.
Lou Dobbs is leaving CNN: Could Fox News be in his future?