Liz Claman: ‘We Want to Do Business News for Everyone, Not Just the Highly Sophisticated Trader’

By A.J. Katz Comment

Countdown to the Closing Bell anchor Liz Claman joined Fox Business Network just months after it launched in 2007, after spending nearly a decade at CNBC. Now, Claman is part of an anchor team with nearly 200 years of business news experience combined, at a network that has leaped ahead of her former employer in total Business Day viewers.

“We weren’t out to beat CNBC at their game, we changed the game,” Claman told TVNewser. “Do business news for everyone, not just the highly sophisticated trader out there.  And our mantra was ‘Have fun doing it. Take chances.’ If you fall short or something you tried fails, you won’t get yelled at for having tried, but do make it different and interesting for everyone who wants to preserve and grow their money.”

We interviewed Claman about how she views outside criticism of the network, being married to a fellow TV newser, and we learned about Building Homes for Heroes.

Claman is being honored in New York this evening for her work in raising awareness and funds for the aforementioned nonprofit that helps build custom homes for injured war vets.

TVNewser: What was it about Building Homes for Heroes that made you want to support this cause?

Claman: July 4th weekend back in 2010, the New York Times ran a front-page profile on a US Army soldier—a young kid in his early twenties from Staten Island–who had lost all four limbs in Iraq when his military vehicle hit an IED.  Think about that: All four limbs gone!  The article described in excruciating detail the long road to recovery he faced. Deeper into the article, it mentioned that a couple of organizations were helping to build him a mortgage-free home, customized to his exact injuries. By the time I finished the article I was in tears thinking, “I have to help somehow.”

TVNewser: You’ve helped raise more than $30 million for the organization, which has meant 130 new homes for injured vets. Do you feel you and your colleagues across TV news get enough credit for using your powerful platform for good?

I have absolutely no interest in getting any credit for anything I’ve done to help. In fact, I initially declined when our founder Andy Pujol told me they wanted me to be this year’s honoree. But Andy and his team are the most gently persuasive people and I finally said yes. But to your point about using our platform—our TV bullhorn— for good, it’s Fox Business that deserves the credit for letting me use my show as a vehicle to raise money for these horrifically wounded soldiers. When Katie Couric underwent a colonoscopy on Today show years ago, she inspired thousands to go get colonoscopies. NBC deserved a lot of credit for allowing her to use that show as a platform for the greater good. Fox Business has never said no to me when I’ve wanted to talk about Building Homes for Heroes. Not once. And there’s a business angle to it as well. We’re the private sector stepping in to do a better job at providing these guys home ownership than the government does.


TVNewser: Critics will say FBN is just a clone of Fox News, with its coverage of Pres. Trump. What do you say to that?

Then what’s their explanation for the success of my 3 p.m. show? The final hour of trade is arguably the most important hour for any investor or CEO dying to catch the end of the daily drama we call the trading day. The Claman Countdown beat CNBC’s 3pm hour on the biggest business and trading days of the last 2-3 years: We won the day the Dow finally hit 19k, then 20k, 21k, 22k, the Snap IPO, the day the New York Stock Exchange had to halt trading for hours due to a computer glitch that wreaked havoc on millions of investors’ portfolio, the list goes on. Last week and so far every day this week, we’ve beaten them in total viewers and I’m sure some of that has to do with the fact that Charlie Gasparino and I have drilled down on the House tax reform bill and the carve-out for private equity fund CEOs called “carried interest” that allows these very wealthy financiers to languish in the 20% tax bracket of us will pay 25 percent to 39+ percent.  So far, carried interest is alive, kicking and untouched while middle class home buyers might see a cap on mortgage interest rate deductions. If Republicans are promising fairer tax policy, then make sure everyone has to make sacrifices, including billionaire private equity guys.  I have a strict policy on the show that unless it’s some major breaking news that supplants everything else, we only do stories that have a business or market angle, including politics. I’ll cover President Trump in China because he’s striking deals and compromises on trade that might affect every multi-national company here in America, but much of the Russian collusion allegation story or the questionable Uranium deal are unlikely to ever make it onto my show’s rundown unless there’s some major revelation that hits the stock market or the economy.

TVNewser: Your husband Jeff Kepnes is a senior ep at NBC and MSNBC. Is there a lot of TV news talk at home, or do you leave work at the office?

By the time we both get home from work, we’re both too tired to talk or gossip about anything but our kids, our dog Rosie, or Cheddar, our new rescue cat! Riveting, I know.