Monday, November 16, 2009

Here's $8 million. Please go away.

You heard it here first.

As I was saying last week, Lou Dobbs' departure from CNN was, shall we say, less than voluntary.

according to the New York Post, but not exactly "Mr. Independent's" idea:

CNN was so sick of Lou Dobbs, it gave him an $8 million severance package to leave, The Post has learned.

"They wanted him out," according to a source.

Dobbs, who a source said had a year and a half to go on his $12 million contract, shocked viewers last Wednesday by announcing he was quitting.

CNN boss Jonathan Klein and Dobbs, 64, had been publicly feuding over the kind of reporting Dobbs was doing on his show -- especially stories about illegal immigration and the anti-Obama "birther" movement, which contends the president was not born in Hawaii and is not an American citizen.

But it was not clear until now that CNN was willing to pay Dobbs so much money to leave.

"What they do is their business," Dobbs said yesterday. "I tried to accommodate them as best I could, but I've said for many years now that neutrality is not part of my being."

THUS, LADIES AND GERMS, we discover the key to prestige and financial success at The End of the World as We Know It -- screw up so badly, behave so outrageously, embarrass your employer so profoundly that the suits will pay you anything to just leave them the f*** alone.

Lou Dobbs was allowed by Cable News Network to sit in front of the camera and act like a lunatic -- a regular bomb-throwing Cassandra of Whack -- for a number of years, getting crazier by the day, and CNN did nothing more radical than a "tsk tsk" here and there.

Lou Dobbs publicly feuded with the president of the network, and nothing more happened than dueling fusillades of public statements and press leaks.

Lou Dobbs got his facts wrong again and again . . . and nothing happened.

BUT THEN, after Screwy Louie kind of calms down after his "birther" moment . . . only then does CNN finally decide it can't take it anymore. What, did the supply of crystal meth run low in the executive suite?

The next thing we know, Dobbs is announcing his immediate departure from the network. And today, we find out he was paid off handsomely to go quietly.

How very Wall Street of everyone.

Of course, if you're a member of the middle or working class in this country nowadays, you don't have the freedom to act like a paranoid ass, screw up repeatedly and still keep your job. More than likely, your job is far from secure no matter how exemplary and talented an employee you might be.

And, more than likely, when you get the old heave-ho, not only will you not walk out of the building with a check for $8 million, but you'll be fortunate indeed if you can box up your personal effects before security escorts you off the premises.

No, you have to fly high before you're issued a golden parachute . . . and the correlation between high fliers and high performance is, as they say, a construct that is no longer operative.

IN A PHONY COUNTRY with a flaky economy, it's always far better to be a well-heeled and self-styled "defender of the middle class" than an actual member of its shrinking ranks.

Life never has been fair, and it never will be. But this kind of nonsense just isn't sustainable. Never has been, never will be.

Ask Marie Antoinette.

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