Lou Dobbs knows the world is watching him closely now for clues that might explain his sudden resignation from CNN. So it's probably safe to read some meaning into the choice of the anchorman's venue for his first big post-CNN interview: He's going on Fox News.
The network is set to announce that Dobbs will be a guest on Monday night's edition of Bill O'Reilly's show, DailyFinance has learned. Warm feelings between the two men goes back to last summer, when O'Reilly publicly defended Dobbs against critics who wanted him fired for repeatedly showcasting the claims of "birthers" who allege President Obama wasn't born in the U.S. Dobbs offered to be interviewed on The O'Reilly Factor then, but quickly backed out, prompting speculation that CNN had ordered him not to appear on a competing network.
Monday's appearance could be a make-good for that...or it could be a not-so-subtle signal that Dobbs is inclined to sign on with Rupert Murdoch's legions, as many believe he will. (On his radio show today, callers were reportedly urging Dobbs to do just that.)
One unknown is whether Dobbs has the contractual freedom to become a Fox Newser. CNN president Jon Klein has said he let Dobbs out of his contract early -- it was supposed to run through 2011 -- but declined to say whether he did so on the condition that the anchor not go to work for a competitor. It's possible that Dobbs could join Fox Business Network, which doesn't compete with CNN or other Turner Broadcasting properties, and then expand into a role with Fox News once any exclusivity period that may exist runs out. (A Fox spokeswoman says there have been no discussions with Dobbs about working at either channel.)
Monday's O'Reilly Factor interview is a "cable exclusive," meaning Dobbs won't appear on CNN, HLN or MSNBC before then. It's possible he could turn up on, say, a network morning show, but for now it's looking like it will be, in effect, his coming-out party.
Lou Dobbs headed to Fox News ... for an interview with Bill O'Reilly