Nearshore Americas

Lou Dobbs Exit: Outrage and Shame Fail in the End

By Kirk Laughlin, NSAM Editorial Director
Lou Dobbs, a fixture on CNN’s evening news talk programs for the better part of the last 25 years and someone who holds deep passions on the subject of outsourcing, exited suddenly from his prominent role this week. lou-dobbs-1
I was not a frequent follower of Dobbs. But when I did watch him I was always aware of his anger and how, at least it seemed to me, that this sustained outrage was based more on attempted entertainment value than on real inquiry and real journalism.
Unlike his CNN colleague, Fareed Zakaria who hosts a globally-oriented program called GPS and who is someone with a balanced, informed view on global affairs, Dobbs shouted and bullied in a seemingly inexpicable attempt to shut down his guests.

Instead of establishing a forum to enable Americans to learn from the full scope and contributors to nearshoring and offshoring, Dobbs used the blunt instruments of shame and condemnation to essentially silence debate.

When questions were asked he would typically not allow the speaker to actually answer the question. Case in point: Atul Vashistha, chairman of NEO Advisory, was targeted with scathing remarks when he joined Dobbs for an “interview” several years ago.
The “shout till they drop” televised interview has now become a common theme in American television – in fact Fox has built a whole news channel around venting and ill will. In that sense, Dobbs was a forerunner and should be recognized for blazing a new pathway, moving from the era of the inquiring journalist to one with a hardcore agenda.
The question I was always left with after watching Dobbs was, does this bitterness actually serve anyone? Of course, the real answer lies with the fact that CNN has tried harder than any of the major 24-hour news channels to stick to its journalistic roots. But in the end, it was Dobbs who couldn’t hold the audience – attracting well under 1 million viewers a night, compared to over 2 million over at Fox during the same time of his show’s airing. The net/net: Dobbs departs but his bullying style lives on as a preferred method in the world of US news-driven entertainment.
The true outrage in the world of Dobbs is how little his lectures served the American business community. As Dobbs went for one jugular after another, American corporate executives grew terrified of the fact that Dobbs might haul them into the interview chair and hold them accountable for being “unAmerican.” Meanwhile, these same corporate executives – facing unrelenting competitive pressures from rivals around the world – adapted to the challenges of globalization by building new global services relationships.
Instead of establishing a forum to enable Americans to learn from the full scope and contributors to nearshoring and offshoring, Dobbs used the blunt instruments of shame and condemnation to essentially silence debate.
This silencing is something I as a global services-oriented journalist encounter all the time.  I routinely run into companies that seem to abandon their customarily strong sense of media relations to either outright deny they are engaged in outsourcing or simply don’t want to talk about it. (Recent examples include Hallmark and TracFone who are doing smart work in the Nearshore – but they apparently don’t want anyone to know about it!)
The fear of American corporate leaders to talk about outsourcing is one of the most damaging realities of our era – instead of learning from each other and using transparency to become a more prudent and competitive nation, Dobbs and others have pushed the whole issue to go underground.
Thankfully there are folks at Kraft, Caterpillar, FedEx, Discovery Communications and many other large US corporate brands who recognize that their service to investors outweighs the fear of rants and ignorance and they are regularly going public about their outsourcing activities. Let’s hope John King, a former AP reporter and Dobbs’s replacement, reflects a bit more of an open-minded approach.

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Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.


  • I agree with many of the points in the above article. One thing that has to be pointed out is outsourcing/near shoring is not only being done for the share holders–but to retain jobs. The reality is if multinationals do not have an effective outsourcing strategy they will become uncompetitive on a fierce playing field. In the end the more jobs will be lost than outsourced as Wall Street Analysts clobber their stock prices which then leads to nasty rounds of layoffs.