Liz Claman On Rupert Murdoch And The Success Of Fox Business: ‘That Man Is A Journalist At Heart’ – Forbes

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 09: Anchor Liz Claman poses for a photo before an interview with … [+] Blackrock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink on “The Claman Countdown” at Fox Business Network Studios on March 09, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Liz Claman remembers the days when she’d try to book guests for her new show on the Fox Business Network—and get turned down flat. “I remember calling Alan Mulally of Ford and saying, ‘hey, come on the show,’” Claman told me. “And his PR people said, ‘Listen, we’re not going to put him on.’ And I said, ‘Why not?’ And they said ‘Because we don’t get you in Dearborn, Michigan.’”
Liz Claman at a party celebrating the launch of the Fox Business Network on October 24, 2007 in New … [+] York City. (Photo by JIMI CELESTE/ McMullan via Getty Images)
How things have changed. This month, the Fox Business Network marked its 15th anniversary—a milestone many predicted would never come for the fledgling business network that debuted in October 2007 with the audacious intentions of unseating CNBC as the most-watched business network on cable TV. “When I think back on day one, very few people were watching us,” Claman said. “We have maybe—I don’t know, four people watching us,” she joked.
Fox had hired Claman away from CNBC, where her show Morning Call had been the network’s top ratings performer, finishing in first place for eight consecutive quarters. Claman told me that after nine years at CNBC, she was ready to leave business news altogether—until Fox called.
“I was just kind of done,” she said. “I had done nine years there. And then Fox announced it was going to have a business network, and I thought to myself, ‘well that’s nice—for them.’” But Claman says the pitch from Fox convinced her to sign on, painting a vision of a network that as Rupert Murdoch said at the time would be about Main Street, not Wall Street. “Talking to them, I realized ‘I’ve got to work for these people.’”
Murdoch was ready to build on the success of the Fox News Channel, and he’d just become a force in business journalism with his $5 billion purchase of Dow Jones, publisher of the most powerful brand in business, The Wall Street Journal. Still, few were convinced Fox Business could compete with CNBC, which had just disposed of CNN’s competing business channel, CNNfn, which folded in 2004 after nine years of failing to make inroads into CNBC’s dominance.
The Dow Jones ticker tape at Times Square in New York City announces that Rupert Murdoch and his … [+] company News Corp. have sealed a $5 billion deal to buy Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. (Photo by Neville Elder/Corbis via Getty Images)
When CNN pulled the plug on CNNfn, executives said distribution had been a hurdle the network just couldn’t overcome. CNNfn had never managed to grow beyond 30 million homes—and DirecTV had announced plans to pull the network from its lineup, which would have cut CNNfn’s distribution in half.
Fox Business launched with essentially the same reach as CNNfn: 30 million homes—compared to CNBC, which was on cable and satellite systems reach 90 million U.S. homes—and global distribution bringing that up to 340 million homes. The deck seemed stacked in CNBC’s favor, but Fox Business had one thing CNNfn did not: Rupert Murdoch. He’d given Fox News time to grow from an also-ran competitor to CNN into the dominant force in cable news. Murdoch would give Fox Business the same luxury: time. “I stick with things at least for a few years,” Murdoch said at the time, calling CNBC “half dead.”
LONDON – JUNE 2007: News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch photographed in his office at … [+] News International in Wapping, London, before his interview with writer Eric Pooley about his bid to buy the Wall Street Journal. (Photo by Tom Stoddart/Getty Images)
“The company said don’t worry,” Claman told me. She said she was given extraordinary freedom to shape what Fox Business would become. “I was told, ‘we want to take off your leash, and you run in any direction you want, as long as it’s business.’ And I said amen.”
When the Alan Mulallys of the world wouldn’t go on her show, Claman headed to Silicon Valley, and tried to book Elon Musk, who had just launched Tesla and was in the process of creating SpaceX. “I called him up,” Claman said. “I said, ‘hey, listen, I switched networks. I’m on Fox Business. Can we come and talk to you about what you’re doing?’”
Elon Musk and Liz Claman
Claman says Fox was so new her own brother drove her up to meet Musk, who was ready to sit down and talk about the numbers behind Tesla and SpaceX. “And I said, no, no, we’re not the other business networks,” Claman said. “We want to hear when this is coming from. You co-founded PayPal, you’re an immigrant. Where did the space thing come from? And his eyes just lit up.” Musk would become a frequent guest, and years later when she ran into him at the White House Correspondents Dinner and he recalled that interview. “And he said, you paid attention to us when nobody else would.”
Fifteen years later, and Claman is once again the highest-rated female host in business news—and in May, Fox Business ended the month as the leader in business news, beating CNBC in the critical “business day” hours, and finishing the month with double digit year-over-year growth while delivering its highest rated month in business day since November 2020. Claman’s The Claman Countdown, the tenth most-watched business show on television, grew by 39 percent.
Blackrock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink is interviewed by Correspondent Charlie Gasparino and Anchor … [+] Liz Claman on “The Claman Countdown” at Fox Business Network Studios on March 09, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images).
“People want to eviscerate Rupert Murdoch,” Claman told me. She credits Murdoch for trusting that his team would ultimately find an audience and grow it into a powerhouse. “That man is a journalist at heart. And he stands by his journalists,” Claman told me. “Rupert looks at the world and competition through a very unique prism. And just as Warren Buffet told me, when you have a chance to work for somebody like that, grab it. I just feel really lucky.”


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