MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz gave a brief mention to the firing of Lou Dobbs without giving any kind of real explanation. However, he did give a wimpy hint.
Before announcing Dobbs’ departure, Kurtz, host of the MediaBuzz show, announced the $2.7+ billion Smartmatic lawsuit against Fox along with the mentioning of Dobbs’ firing. Without noting just how far Dobbs and co-defendants Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro went in falsely accusing Smartmatic of overturning the election for Joe Biden, Kurtz announced Fox’s official response:
KURTZ: Fox News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend against this meritless lawsuit in court.
How Kurtz managed to read that with a straight face is a mystery. In addition to the numerous examples of Fox disinformation Smartmatic cited in its complaint (and the ridiculously ineffective “rebuttals” Fox provided in an obvious effort to stave off the suit), legal experts think Smartmatic has a good case against Fox.
So why did Fox cancel Dobbs’ show, the highest rated on Fox Business? Kurtz didn’t say, though the juxtaposition of the lawsuit with the Dobbs cancellation certainly hints at a connection. These were Kurtz’s next words:
KURTZ: On Friday, the day after the suit was filed, Fox Business Network announced it is cancelling Lou Dobbs Tonight, the network’s highest rated show. Now, I’ve known Lou as a talented broadcaster for decades. He was controversial at CNN. He’s been controversial in the decade he’s been here.
The company said in a statement, “As we said in October, Fox News Media regularly considers programming changes and plans have been in place to launch new formats as appropriate post-election, including on Fox Business. This is part of those planned changes. A new 5 PM program will be announced in the near future.”
Well, that’s obviously BS. For one thing, Fox admits it has no plan in place to replace Dobbs. On Friday, minutes before news broke of Dobbs' firing, substitute host David Asman announced that Dobbs was on vacation and would be returning Monday – hardly the kind of announcement that’s made when a host’s departure has been pre-planned. Also, the network hasn’t yet figured out who will be the permanent host. There will be rotating substitute hosts in the meanwhile.
CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that an “insider” told him “Dobbs' ratings didn't justify the headaches. … The insider said that Dobbs' history of incendiary segments, and his show's weak performance with advertisers, were factors in the decision." NPR’s David Folkenflik suggested on Stelter’s Reliable Sources show yesterday that Dobbs could have been a sacrificial offering to try to appease Smartmatic. He said he’s reminded of how "scandals were handled at Rupert Murdoch's news tabloids in London," a while back, when they would "throw somebody over the side and see if that was enough." However, it's doubtful that a PR bandaid is going to satisfy Smartmatic, which alleges very serious harm in its complaint.
Kurtz’s next comments suggested that the Smartmatic suit did play some part in Dobbs’ firing:
KURTZ: Dobbs became one of the most passionate defenders of Donald Trump during his presidency, and of his claims of election fraud. In fact, the former president said in a statement, “Lou Dobbs is and was great. Nobody loves America more than Lou. He had a large and loyal following."
In my opinion, Dobbs sometimes went too far. But that was his right as an opinion host, and it’s Fox’s right to decide its programming. I want to wish Lou the very best in the future.”
Also, Kurtz said nothing about any obligation by Fox to make sure Dobbs told the truth.
You can watch Kurtz’s comments below, from the February 7, 2021 MediaBuzz.