Lou Dobbs and his producers were tailoring the June 28 edition of
CNN's Lou Dobbs Moneyline around the financial markets, following a
strong midweek surge on Wall Street. That was until the Microsoft story
broke. Six hours later, Dobbs was telling viewers, "Tonight, Microsoft
wins. An appeals court throws out the Microsoft breakup order. Bill
Gates is our guest."
Not many shows have the clout to book Bill Gates on such short
But for Moneyline staff, having the Windows wizard on the show was a
chance to ask some probing questions.
Though it was a scramble, Moneyline producers had worked on the
Microsoft story for weeks. What they didn't know was the outcome and the
(In fact, Steve Young, who headed Moneyline's coverage, was on vacation
in Europe when the story broke).
"We quickly assigned four reporters to look at the story from different
angles," says Bill Dorman, Moneyline EP. "They included a hard wrap,
what comes next, impact inside the industry, competitors' reaction,
context, and background."
Such is today's Moneyline, much broader in scope and friendlier to the
less financially savvy than when it launched in the early 1980s.
This year marked the return of anchor Dobbs, lured back by CNN's new
owner AOL Time Warner. He resigned as anchor and president of CNN
Financial News in June 1999 after repeated run-ins with network brass in
Dobbs headed Web site Space.com before returning to replace co-hosts
Stuart Varney and Willow Bay.
Moneyline lost 25% of its audience in Dobbs' absence, falling behind its
chief cable competitor, CNBC's Business Center. Since Dobbs' return
(with a reported $4 million salary), the show has gained an
estimated 19,000 viewers nightly. According to AC Nielsen numbers for
the first seven weeks under the new regime (May 14 - July 29), the show
was watched in 190,000 total households. However, it still lags some
39,000 viewers behind Business Center.
In the "Lou's Back" campaign, CNN has trumpeted Moneyline's evolution,
marked by more economic coverage and better integration of the worlds of
finance, politics, and current events. Moneyline covers everything from
the markets to taxes, education, energy, science, and technology.
But Dobbs' ability to draw A-list movers and shakers has made the
biggest difference to the show. For example, in addition to Gates and a
parade of antitrust attorneys, Moneyline also secured Attorney General
If that weren't enough, consider that the same show also included
interviews with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussing Pentagon
spending, and CEO Henry Silverman chronicling the resurgence of
"Much of what we do is focused around the high-caliber interviews we
offer, including three to four guests nightly," says Dorman. In fact,
some of the first guests to be interviewed by Dobbs since his return
included Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, William Harrison (in his first
interview since becoming CEO of the merged J.P. Morgan Chase), Citigroup
topper Sandy Weill, and Ford CEO Jac Nasser.
"We try to be the smartest broadcast in business news," says Dorman.
So, while you may not have a Bill Gates or a Michael Eisner on your
client list, you may have an analyst or expert who's tracking the next
"The closer connection you can make to the news of the day, or of the
week - whether it's a trend or news that happened that day - the better
shot you have," explains Dorman.
The weekday show is always live, and bookings are made pretty close to
show time, so make sure to have your client media trained ahead of
"It generally depends on the topic, but usually the news broke the day
before or that morning, developed in the afternoon, and our guests
comment on it that night," says Dorman.
Analysts and experts are held to a pretty high bar. "They must have a
track record of success," says Dorman. "And we keep track of what they
recommend on the show. That's a benchmark that determines if they'll be
Deadline pressure usually begins as soon as Wall Street markets close at
4pm EST. The hour-long show airs at 6:30pm. "I'm still stunned when
people call at 5:30pm and want to have an extended conversation," says
Lou Dobbs Moneyline
Address: Five Penn Plaza,
20th Floor, New York, NY 10001 Tel: (212) 714-7800
Fax: (212) 714-7962
E-mail: firstname.lastname@ cnn.com
Anchor: Lou Dobbs
EP: Bill Dorman
Bookers: Paris Wald, Leslie Ella-Henry