Neil Cavuto is an anchor and commentator with the Fox Business Network. He spent April 15 covering the Tax Day Tea Party at the Capitol in Sacramento, part of the extensive coverage Fox gave the protests around the nation.
Why do you think these protests were so big?
I’m not sure. But I think they predate a lot of that, going back to last fall, a completely different administration. It was the financial rescue for the banks and the brokerage houses that got a lot of people, of all political persuasions, thinking about the wisdom of what was at the time a seven or eight hundred billion dollar financial rescue. People asked of a Republican president, as they do now of a Democratic president, how are we going to pay for this? It festered like a wound back then, and it boiled over to a gaping wound now.
I think there is angst about how we are going to pay for all of this, and it built day by day, bailout by bailout, amid the reality that in blackjack terms, we were doubling down and tripling down on the deficit and the debt to see if something sticks here. It might work, it might not work, but clearly, given the number of protestors and the sheer number of protests throughout all 50 states and virtually all major cities, there was something clearly registering.
Why did you chose to come to Sacramento?
California is dealing with a lot of these tax and spend issues right now. I often think that California is a good leading indicator for the rest of the country. California is facing a hike in the sales tax that would make it the highest in the country. There are going to be levees and fees enacted on Californians of all income levels here that some rally organizers and some even outside of the media have begun to think could be a sign of things to come.
Tell me about why Fox chose to cover these events so extensively.
We can’t pick and choose our rages. I would be more curious why others (networks) chose not to. I guess you can be dismissive all you want. You can say this is just a few rich people gathering in a town center to bitch. People I talked to, certainly in Sacramento, didn’t seem rich to me. A lot of them wish they could be. A lot them are average Joes and Joanns who didn’t look rich, dress rich, act rich, talk rich. They were just very concerned about a government that seemed to be getting bigger. Ours was not to judge the rally.
Tell me more about Fox Business. You guys started in Oct. 2007, about the time the economy started to sour.
We picked a fine time to start a business network, you’re right. But if you look at some of our biggest and most promising companies, they’re always started seemingly in very tough times, if not, in outright recessions. Microsoft, Apple, Google. So something maybe happens in desperate times to get people to be more innovative.
I think that there is a market out there for business news that is presented in a friendly and engaging manner, without speaking over their heads. I’ve long argued that there are a lot of folks who share the American dream but are intimidated by what they think are the means to get there, the words, jargon and language that sometimes are equated with getting there. Having worked at CNBC myself and at the Nightly Business Report on PBS before that, I knew all the jargon. But I always felt very strongly that when it came to coverage, the issues aren’t impressing your broker or your banker friends, it’s impressing just regular folks. If they get it, they get a step closer to realizing the American dream.
People need a port in the storm. People need to know a network is devoted to looking out for them. Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we’ve been storming the halls of power, demanding the release of documents showing accountability through the Freedom of Information Act on where this money was going, who was getting it, how it was being protected, and who was going to oversee it.
Early on, we made this our cause. We weren’t doing this as red or blue, just looking after people’s green. People responded, ratings surged, because they trusted us to look after them, not to hype things. Just to see things for what they are to the folks that matter, the folks paying the bills. We let the chips fall where they may.