5 Questions For…Neil Cavuto

By Alissa Krinsky 

Alissa Krinsky
TVNewser Contributor

Neil Cavuto is Senior Vice President of Business News and Managing Editor at both Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. He also anchors FNC’s Your World With Neil Cavuto and FBN’s Cavuto. Prior to joining Fox, Cavuto was an anchor at CNBC and a reporter for PBS’ Nightly Business Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s from American University.

1. TVNewser: Almost two months after the FBN launch, the business news landscape is…
Cavuto: I really don’t see us competing with CNBC. I see us competing for eyeballs, period, from the Internet, established press, any press. I do think we have added certain energy to the field, and in keeping to Roger Ailes‘ mantra, a great democratization of business news as well. Maybe it’s just me, but I see fewer big words or market jargon thrown around. I abhor either, and I think even the smartest financial players do as well. I have as yet to hear a billionaire talk or act like the smartest kid in the class anyway, so why should I? Why should any of us? If FBN has had anything to do with that, all the better. Our progress, small as it is, shall be measured in inches. That, to me, is a very healthy sign of progress. We’ve energized the landscape.


2. TVNewser: Working at two networks — both FBN and FNC — makes each day…
Cavuto: It can be a bit exhausting, but to be fair, on the FBN side, (EVP) Kevin Magee really does all the heavy lifting. I’m just told to look pretty and I can’t even manage that! Seriously, it takes pretty good time management.

(answer continues after the jump)

Fortunately, I’m a morning person, which comes in handy for my daily morning radio reports as well. They start at 6 a.m., so I have to be reasonably up to speed very early in the day. I tend to devote my early mornings, from 5 a.m. on, to reading and more reading. Newspapers, web sites, you name it. I particularly enjoy reading the European press. I collect it all, although it’s debatable whether I retain it all. But I do try. Very early on then, I have a pretty good working idea of how certain issues are being covered, or not being covered. I always try to remind those at FBN, although they really don’t need much reminding, that we prove our value not following the crowd or the consensus view, so I’ll usually throw my two cents in on an issue that’s being covered all too predictably.

Since my FNC show comes first in the day, I usually go over a potential rundown that morning, then my FBN show later in the morning. It’s fairly fluid, in keeping with the news of the day. I try to keep in mind that my FNC show, given its placement on a general news network, should be more mainstream. My FBN show slightly less so. But I want both to be punchy and clear regardless. I guess it’s a lot of hats, but some viewers seem to think I have a big head, so I can accommodate them, so far.

3. TVNewser: The most fascinating business figure or news story I’ve ever covered:
Cavuto: I guess I could state the obvious names, such as Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, or any of the recent White House occupants, but for my money, the ones who most impress me are the ones who provide examples to society, who transcend their job and maybe society itself. Jon Huntsman comes to mind.

He’s a real rags-to-riches story — World War II vet with not a penny to his name who becomes a petrochemical billionaire many times over. And now Jon wants to leave this world as he came in, penniless. He intends to give it all away, to cancer research — a disease that has plagued him no less than three times, and taken from him virtually every close family figure. I’ve kidded with him on-air whether his kids were okay with his altruism. He just laughed, but I devoted a chapter in my first book, More than Money, to Jon and his passion to wipe out cancer. His Huntsman Foundation in Salt Lake City embodies that dream, and his money provides the treatment many of its patients could never get. I’ve been there many times. It is a moving experience, that’s all I can tell you.

Leave it to a Type A personality billionaire to say, ‘I want to cure this damn disease.’ He just might do it. Never have I witnessed someone so battered by an illness do everything possible to make sure others don’t share the same battles, or the same potential fate. It’s not his billions that humble me. It’s his heart.

4. TVNewser: The secret to making business news interesting to the public:
Cavuto: As much as I try to make business news engaging and fun, for some, it will never be that way. I know that, but I won’t stop trying just the same. I refuse to believe business news is a niche service. Overly dry, arcane, pointless business news might be, but it needn’t be. I remember telling a Washington Post reporter that it’s very much like hiding the vegetables in pudding. I have two little boys, neither a fan of vegetables, but when hidden in pudding, they’re unintentionally getting their vegetables and none too worse for the experience.

I guess you could say that’s my approach to business news. I am forever banging my head trying to look at an angle or a relationship others are missing. I demand others I work with to do the same. A favorite line is, ‘what jazzes us might not be what jazzes folks back home.’ Find a way of making sure it does. We owe them at least that much.

5. TVNewser: An update on my battle with Multiple Sclerosis:
Cavuto: I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say my disease is a constant reminder of the fragility of my life. Having had cancer right before my MS diagnosis, I can honestly say MS is worse. There’s no endgame here, no cure here, no concoction of chemotherapy or radiation that could make it all go away here. So I take steroids, and weekly injections, and I exercise my legs a great deal. A big and common fear with this disease is that eventually you lose use of your legs. In fact, my neurologist is surprised I haven’t already (he also says, given my scans and MRI’s, I shouldn’t be talking either, but most viewers know I still can’t shut up, so go figure).

That’s why you’ll see me on a stationary bike or treadmill. ‘Move ’em, Neil,’ I keep telling myself, ‘Just keep movin.’ Despite my progressive form of MS, my body has remarkably adjusted to the unique vagaries of this disease — temporary bouts of blindness, or uncontrollable attacks, or brief hospital stays. None have proven too damning, yet. I know the day is coming. But I try not to dwell. I am just very lucky to be working for a guy like Roger Ailes, who refuses to define me by this disease. I remember when I first revealed to him my MS diagnosis back in 1997, he asked what the near-term worst case scenario was. And I told him I’d likely end up in a wheelchair. And not even pausing a second, Roger says, ‘then we’ll build a ramp to your set.’ He’s just that kind of guy. You can’t help but perform well with that kind of support. I know many others suffering through this disease aren’t so lucky.

TVNewser, continued: My advice for anyone learning to live with MS:
I’m always reluctant to offer advice for MS patients. All I can do is live my life to the fullest, and assure them they can too. It’s such a mental thing. The mind can play tricks on you, don’t let it. Get through it. One day at a time. I cannot be more profound than that.