Lou Dobbs “Surprised, Flattered” by O’Reilly Offer

By Gail Shister 

Lou Dobbs “would be delighted” to join Bill O’Reilly as a semi-regular contributor, Dobbs says.

Dobbs, who resigned from CNN on the air last week, was “surprised and very flattered” when O’Reilly made the offer on his Fox News show last night, Dobbs said in an interview today.

“Absolutely, I’m thinking about it,” said Dobbs, on the fly after a “Today” show hit. “I have immense respect for Bill O’Reilly. He’s an outstanding broadcaster.”

Despite buzz that he will be the next hoss in Roger Ailes’ stable, the partisan pontificator says he and his wife plan “to take a lot of time” mulling over numerous offers from “all forms of media and politics.”

He won’t discuss details, saying only that he feels “blessed and fortunate to have the choices that I do.” His CNN contract, which was not set to expire until the end of 2011, does not include a non-compete clause.

“The first thing we’re going to do is head to our house down south [West Palm Beach, Fla.] and do some thinking and relaxing and put some distance between us and the workaday world,” Dobbs says.

Dobbs is under no deadline to decide, he says, adding that his three-hour syndicated radio show is high on his list of priorities.

“Obviously, my radio talk show is extremely important to me. I love doing it. It’s a very gratifying medium and outlet. I love the immediacy of radio. It can be spellbinding.”

Whatever his next gig, don’t look for Dobbs to hold back the strong political views that got him in trouble at CNN, which is trying to position itself as the Switzerland of cable news.

“I am who I am,” he says. “My opinions are borne of considerable analysis and experience. My audience has not only given me permission for my opinions, they expect it of me, demand it of me. It defines my voice.”

Will that voice, as widely rumored, run in New Jersey for the U.S. Senate in 2012?

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews can relate. He thought long and hard about doing the same thing in Pennsylvania. He decided to stick with “Hardball.”

“I love what I’m able to do on TV – news, analysis and opinion, in that order,” Matthews says. “I don’t have to worry about constituents.

“News analysts are a lot more independent – and more truthful — than politicians. You make a lot of compromises in political life.”