There have been lots of rumours echoing around that star-CNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan stormed out of CNBC after feuding with bosses Mark Hoffman and Susan Krakower, that he’s headed straight to ABC for a big-time broadcast slot, and that he can’t go on-air for the next 6 months because of some ridiculous, spiteful clause in his CNBC contract.
Is it all TRUE??? Inquiring minds want to know!
So we asked Dylan himself, who was kind enough to share 20 minutes with us.
The short answer? “No.” This is a pro-Dylan Ratigan move, not an anti-CNBC move. And the bull market of the past month is just a suckers’ rally.
Here’s an excerpt of our conversation:
ON THE DECISION TO LEAVE CNBC:
Blodget: So, you’re one of CNBC’s biggest stars. You’re running one of the most successful shows they’ve got. And you bolt. Why?
Ratigan: A lot of things came together. One, it became apparent to me that there had been some major policy failures in America. While clearly pursuable at a place like CNBC, in my opinion, they are more broadly pursuable from a wide variety of other news platforms.
Blodget: Such as?
Ratigan: Pick them. ABC, CBS, HBO, MSNBC, CNN, FOX. When you’re dealing with economic problems, you want to be speaking from an economic platform. When you’re dealing with systemic policy failures that have rendered a catastrophe the likes of which we’ve really never seen, the role of journalism is to ask questions of money and power from the broadest possible platform.
And I happened to have a contract that was expiring. If I had been in the second year of a five-year deal, none of this would have happened.
Here’s the thing that people get confused by. “He has a hot show on a hot network, and they’re going to pay him a bunch of money…and he walks! There must have been some terrible thing there!” Management must have been bad, or whatever. And then they say, “Whoah, we found out he fought with one of the managers! That must be it!”… “They didn’t pay him!” It’s not even that some of the things aren’t true. Did I fight with management? Sure. Did I fight with everyone in management all the time? Absolutely not. Did it have anything to do with the departure? Absolutely nothing… People think that my departure was in some way a reflection on CNBC. I’m telling you, it was a reflection on me.
CNBC was incredibly generous in not only giving me the opportunity to host shows, but in giving me the opportunity to create shows. And I got to the end of a three-year deal after doing play by play in the afternoon for the financial apocalypse. And I say, hang on a second here, this is a bigger story. This is a story of this country, and this country’s system of making laws that affect its money.
So [I’m a] CNBC star, 36, single, trained by lots of entrepreneurial people, starting with Michael Bloomberg. The value system that I grew up was that you make decisions based on being respectful to the situation you are already in, and at the same time honour any future opportunities.
Blodget: So you want to go to a bigger platform and tell the same story to a broader audience?
Ratigan: Tell the same story to a broader audience but also broaden the story by making it more accessible to more people.
ON TOP-TICKING CNBC:
Blodget: Do you think that, as far as CNBC goes, you’re getting out at the top? I don’t mean that something’s wrong with the network. I mean that if you go back in time you find that the ratings at CNBC and other financial networks are extraordinary when markets are crashing, but then when markets stop crashing and we all begin to focus on the fact that we’ve lost our shirts, we completely lose interest. So was this a great timing call?
Ratigan: If that turns out to be the case it would be entirely coincidental.
ON THE ALLURE OF BROADCAST NEWS:
Blodget: Is there really a place for this story you’re talking about on broadcast TV?
Ratigan: Sure. If you went to broadcast TV and started to connect the dots between the real impact of all these policy decisions–students not getting loans, all the housing problems, all the layoffs–and juxtapose that reality with the policy decisions and policies that allowed for the largest insurance fraud followed by blackmail ever… Broadcast TV’s perfect for that. And the potential to use this moment to achieve systemic improvement by virtue of the taxpayer being asked for all this capital…is important. The original role of the journalist was not to give everyone the answers but to ask lots and lots of questions. And that’s what I’d like to do.
Blodget: Is it fair to say that most people who are big stars at cable networks want to go on to do broader news at broadcast networks? And I specifically ask about the broadcast networks because everyone in the digital business thinks that eventually they’re toast.
Ratigan: For me it’s not like I want to go from cable to broadcast like it’s 1988 or 1993. Broadcast represents an opportunity to reach a huge percentage of the population…and ask the questions I want to ask.
ON THE MOVE TO ABC:
Blodget: Is it reasonable to think you’ll end up at ABC?
Ratigan: Yes. And it’s equally reasonable to think that I won’t.
NO DYLAN ON TV FOR MONTHS? BLAME JEFF ZUCKER!
Blodget: How long will we have to wait?
Ratigan: Call Jeff Zucker and ask him. He controls the contract. He can waive it tomorrow.
Blodget: So we might get you back in a few weeks?
Ratigan: Who knows.
Blodget: So we can hold Jeff Zucker personally responsible for keeping you off the air?
Ratigan: No, no. That’s not fair.
ON THE FUTURE OF CNBC:
Blodget: So what happens to CNBC? You’ve left. Jonathan Wald [editor] has left. I hear other big stars are thinking of leaving. What happens to the network?
Ratigan: You’d have to ask them.
Blodget: As an aside, I have to say that I think CNBC has done a great job over the last couple of years. I’m always appalled when people say that they should have somehow told everyone else in advance that the world was going to end when 99.9% of financial professionals missed this.
Ratigan: Yes. I have no doubt that CNBC will go on to be bigger and better than ever before.
NEW BULL MARKET…OR SUCKERS’ RALLY?
Blodget: Last question. You’ve been right in the middle of this meltdown day after day, interviewing the smartest people, etc. So is this a new bull market, or is this another suckers’ rally?
Ratigan: Suckers’ rally. No question. That’s not an indictment of the judgement of the market. That’s just my perception of the ability of the banks to function in a timely fashion, the ability to create meaningful amounts of jobs in the immediate future, and the as-yet unrecognised meaningful losses to come in commercial real-estate and other asset classes… We’ve gone through a transition where things were getting bad in a freefall, and now they’re just getting slowly worse. So it’s a transition from jumping out a plane without a parachute, and now, after a year of free-fall, we’ve pulled the parachute, which feels a hell of a lot better than the freefall… I think we’re dealing with a problem that has a few years in it, not a few months.
Blodget: Thanks, Dylan.