Dobbs vs. Kudlow: CNN Host Trashes Rival's Presence at Obama Dinner

January 15th, 2009 11:27 AM

"CNBC Reports" host Larry Kudlow believes free-market capitalism is the best path to prosperity. Too bad CNN "Lou Dobbs Tonight" host Lou Dobbs doesn't.

Dobbs attacked Kudlow during the Jan. 14 broadcast of "Lou Dobbs Tonight" for commenting on a dinner meeting of conservative pundits at the home of Washington Post columnist George Will on Jan. 13. Kudlow was not included in person or by phone to respond to Dobbs' criticism.

"This is Larry Kudlow - one of the folks invited to a conservative fest with the president-elect last night," Dobbs said. "I'd like to just share, everybody - what a Larry Kudlow-conservative person does after meeting with the president-elect."

Dobbs cited a few lines from Kudlow's appearance on CNBC's Jan. 14 "The Call" - "He is charming, he is terribly smart, bright, well informed. He has a great sense of humor." Then Dobbs skipped moments in Kudlow's exchange with "The Call" co-host Melissa Francis and added - "He's so well informed and he loves to deal with both sides of an issue."

But Dobbs left out a substantial portion of Kudlow's Jan. 14 "The Call" comments, cherry picking the most flowery portions. Dobbs also didn't mention Kudlow's past criticisms of Obama.

During special CNBC coverage on Election Night 2008, Kudlow warned that Obama's victory didn't give the president-elect license to attack business or over-regulate.

Nevertheless, Dobbs attempted to discredit Kudlow's assessment of Obama by going back over two years to something he wrote that approved of President George W. Bush's handling of the economy - back when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was steady within the 11,000-point range.

"Let's contrast this if we may with Kudlow's constant praise of President Bush on his Money and Politics blog [Kudlow's Money Politic$] in 2006 commenting on a major economic speech," Dobbs said.

Once again - Dobbs parsed Kudlow's words from his May 3, 2006 post: "He's hot ... He's framing the debate ... Bush was positive, optimistic and confident," Dobbs said.

In that speech, Kudlow praised for supporting tax cuts, appealing to the entire spectrum of the economy and remaining optimistic at a time when political opponents were browbeating the current economic climate with a mid-term congressional election looming.

Despite that, Dobbs said, "The ideological tension there is just overwhelming."

If Dobbs or his staff had looked at something more recent than May 2006 from Kudlow - and as a CNBC host and a columnist and blogger for National Review, there is plenty of it - Dobbs might have discovered Kudlow doesn't blindly follow Bush.

On CNBC's Dec. 19, 2008 "The Call," Kudlow was very hard on Bush for his administration's willingness to bailout the Big Three automakers. "And I regret to say this to Mr. Bush and Mr. Paulson, you blew it because you didn't protect the taxpayers and you're not protecting the long-run health, either of the American car business, which needs this radical restructuring or the American economy."

Dobbs' so-called political analysts followed his lead and piled on. Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman took a real cheap shot at Kudlow - suggesting his only pertinent role would be as the hired help.

"Unless Kudlow was there as a caterer, I can't imagine what the rationale was to have him at that dinner," Zimmerman said.

Dobbs then asked if Peggy Noonan, Paul Gigot, David Brooks and Bill Kristol belonged at such a "conservative fest," and Zimmerman approved of their presence at George Will's off-the-record conservative pundit/Obama dinner.

"I can see them being there because there's some, there's intellectual integrity," Zimmerman continued.

Ed Rollins, the former chairman of Gov. Mike Huckabee's failed bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, also criticized Kudlow for speaking out about the meeting on CNBC.

"The interesting thing was this was supposed to be a confidential dinner," Rollins said. "That was the president[-elect]'s rules and Larry Kudlow walks out and goes on TV this morning and blabs it."

But it's not like Rollins is known for keeping his mouth shut. Amanda Carpenter of reported on Rollins' outbursts at an Iowa restaurant on Jan. 3, 2008, where he made personal attacks against Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson and shared his affections for NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell and Dobbs with the entire restaurant.

It is worth noting that CNN's Dobbs and CNBC's Kudlow are competitors. Their shows air during the same time slot - at 7 p.m. Eastern on weeknights. Kudlow has been critical of Dobbs over the years for his protectionist stances and had made this observation of the evolution of Dobbs - to the modern-day independent he claims to be - after he appeared on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report."

"So anyway, there's Lou Dobbs, a friend of mine, who in a very short period of time has covered the entire political spectrum by moving from a conservative, corporate business softy, a free trader, to a hard-line, left-wing, business-bashing, immigrant-hating trade protectionist, even though in my judgment the facts don't support his newly found philosophy," Kudlow said on the Jan. 25, 2007 broadcast of CNBC's "Kudlow & Company."