Larry Kudlow spent nearly three years advising former President Donald Trump on economic policy. Now he’s taking to Fox Business Network, where he will get to comment as a new Commander-in-Chief is likely to dismantle much of what his predecessor wrought.
Can he do so in an objective manner?
“I’ve said good and bad things about Democrats and Republicans,” says Kudlow in an interview, noting that business-news viewers probably already know his philosophy. He launches “Kudlow,” a Fox Business hour that will run at 4 p.m. and re-air at 7 p.m., today. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be one of his first guests. “I myself am not bashful about my own comments. I have a few opinions. It’s not exactly breaking news that I’m a free-enterprise, free-markets, supply-side guy. That will not be shocking information.”
Stock-market aficionados have had a long relationship with Kudlow, who held several top Wall Street jobs and advised politicians ranging from President Ronald Regan to former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman on the economy from behind the scenes. He was a fixture for nearly two decades on CNBC, sometimes holding forth with another longtime host, former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer.
He’s poised to add some new elements to his repertoire. His time in the Trump administration “kind of opened my eyes” to the plight of lower- and middle-class workers, he says. “I’m not just going to have a Wall Street perspective. I’m going to have what I hope is a Main Street perspective,” he says. “We are going to reach for a broader audience.”
Kudlow is one of the first Trump administration officials to find firm landing in the media world, which has yet to embrace other Trump representatives like Kayleigh McEnany or Kellyanne Conway with full-time roles (Fox News acknowledged in January it had held talks with McEnany before pausing them for undisclosed reasons, and Conway recently turned up on a broadcast of ABC’s “American Idol.”)
Many who exited the administration left with baggage. During his tenure, Kudlow was accused of offering too-rosy predictions of U.S. economic growth and of minimizing the potential effects of the coronavirus pandemic before it took true root across the nation. But he says the economy is in fact poised to boom, particularly in the manufacturing and technology sectors, if government officials can open schools and restaurants and get more vaccine shots in arms. He expects to boost those ideas regularly.
Kudlow is essentially replacing “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which Fox abruptly canceled, citing a desire to recalibrate its programming for a post-election audience (Dobbs was recently named in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed by voting-technology firm Smartmatic that alleges Fox hosts helped pass along disinformation about the electoral process. Fox News Media has filed a motion to dismiss).
Kudlow’s show, however, airs at 4 p.m., not Dobbs’ 5, meaning it appears just as the stock market is closing and could potentially be tied to some degree to the business news of the day. Dobbs’ show was largely focused on politics, and the host’s strong anti-immigration stance and fiery defense of President Trump won him a large group of detractors.
Fox Business has in the past filled its evening schedule with some financially themed programs from Charles Payne and others but it has also aired shows that are among the most brusque in the Fox News portfolio. Fox Business in 2018 launched a primetime show anchored by former CNBC and Bloomberg Television staffer Trish Regan. She also vowed to focus on economic issues that were of importance to middle-class viewers. By the time she and Fox parted ways in March of last year, she was leading a fiery segment suggesting liberals were playing up the dangers of coronavirus.
Kudlow says he’s not the same kind of broadcaster: “Lou is Lou, and Larry is Larry.”
“Kudlow” will certainly have room for opinion, its host says. He won’t be shy about his views on economic policy. “I like people to be able to spend their own money,” he says. “I like them to have as much freedom as possible.” He wants the U.S. economy to push forward and small businesses and restaurants to open. And he’s wary of “big increases in taxes or regulations” that he says would harm growth.
His arrival at Fox Business is something of a surprise, given his long association with CNBC (where some anchors have at times expressed their thoughts on politics and policy). CNBC, says Kudlow, “was a terrific opportunity. I’ve got nothing but good to say about it. They were great to me and taught me how to be an anchor as well as a reporter. But what Fox came up with is the opportunity to do my own show, and I just leaped at it. I was very grateful to be able to turn the page and have a new chapter.”
Even Kudlow, who is avidly pro-business, takes a more skeptical view of some recent stock increases. The anchor warns small investors of some of the new dangers in the market, which has seen shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment rise as day traders pass along tips via social media in a bid to thwart short sellers invested in those stocks.
“I have no problem with it,” Kudlow says of the recent surges. “But if you’re a first-timer, you’d better do your homework, and you’d better understand that stock prices go up and they also go down. You should understand that if you borrow on margin you may get called on it.” He would prefer to buy exchange-traded fund and S&P index funds “and hold it for the rest of your life,” he says. “I’m a buy and hold guy.” Fox Business viewers get to decide starting this week how much time to invest in “Kudlow.”