Lou Dobbs, the conservative face of Fox Business News, has been taken off the air “effective immediately” according to a statement from the network. Dobbs show, Lou Dobbs Tonight, was the highest-rated- show on the network. Dobbs was one of Donald Trump’s most vociferous supporters and is perhaps most closely identified with theories that the election in November had been stolen by Democrats — a belief that directly led to his ouster.
Last week, the voting technology company Smartmatic filed a multi-billion lawsuit against the network with Dobbs being named as a defendant. While Fox Business gave no reasons for Dobbs’ firing, most insiders believe the lawsuit was the primary reason for his dismissal.
In one of Trump’s first statements since leaving the White House, he effusively praised his friend, saying Dobbs “is and was great. Nobody loves America more than Lou. He had a large and loyal following that will be watching closely for his next move, and that following includes me.”
The pro-Trump propaganda bent juiced Dobbs’ ratings. But his far-right programming choices repeatedly caused consternation within the company, a source close to the matter said, and his program was a loss leader for Fox because many advertisers didn’t want to be associated with his content.
Dobbs will continue to be paid, but won’t appear on any Fox networks. It’s an industry practice to prevent Dobbs from suddenly showing up on CNN or MSNBC. When his contract expires, Dobbs may find it difficult to land another job. It’s the new “blacklist” and instead of commie sympathizers and fellow travelers, it will have on it conservatives and anyone who ever supported Donald Trump.
The Smartmatic lawsuit, and the legal action being taken by Dominion, are responses to real damage done to those company’s bottom lines. They are international companies whose reputations have been questioned.
Smartmatic’s suit against Fox named Dobbs and two other Fox hosts, Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, as defendants.
Legal experts have said the case against the conservative cable channel is strong. CNN legal analyst Ellie Honig described it as a “legitimate threat” to Fox and added, “There is real teeth to this.”
The lawsuit accused Dobbs of having been “one of the primary proponents” of a “disinformation campaign” against Smartmatic.
“Not only did Dobbs allow guests to defame Smartmatic, the lawsuit says, but he “took the initiative and contributed additional falsehoods to the narrative.” Fox has become a target for regulators, advertisers, and of course, a hostile media that smells blood in the water. The opportunity to knock Fox down a few pegs is too tempting to pass up.
The lawsuit is not likely to go to trial. But it will cost Fox a bundle. Meanwhile, Dobbs will become a conservative martyr — one of many whose lives have been upended by the cancel culture.