Why does CNN employ Lou Dobbs?

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

I don't mean that in the sense the question is typically asked -- "Why would CNN inflict such a loud-mouthed xenophobe on it's audience?" I mean, why does CNN employ a host whose journalism is so inconsistent with its stated business model?

Whenever there's a news report about CNN's sagging ratings, a CNN executive steps forward to say that their brand is serious, nonpartisan news, and if they turned to opinionated hosts who might boost their ratings, they'd damage that brand. Here's an AP article out today, for example:

The network could cast aside Cooper, Larry King and Campbell Brown for opinionated analysis and probably see its ratings go up, said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide.

The benefit for one arm of the company isn't worth the potential damage to others, he said.

CNN has built its business - encompassing international networks and wholesale news reports, mobile device services, a Web site, a wire service to print publications and radio - around the notion that it is delivering nonpartisan, straight news reporting, he said. The company has shown double-digit growth for the past few years and is on pace to continue. It invests by hiring more personnel, and this month opening a new production facility in Abu Dhabi.

"People hear what's being said and it's branded CNN and (they say), 'OK, that's news. That's nonpartisan, that's factual, it's timely," Walton said. "That's what we want to deliver around the world. We compete against a lot more than Fox and MSNBC."

So ... How does Lou Dobbs fit into that business model? Quite plainly, he doesn't. So why does CNN damage its brand by giving him an hour every night?

UPDATE: Right on cue ... Under pressure, Dobbs announces his resignation from CNN

Lou Dobbs
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