Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto is loud, pushy, and full of controversial opinions. He's also got the highest-rated business show on cable television—and a degenerative disease that leaves him with little patience for BS.
I hate elitists. I hate conceited people. I hate pompous people. Maybe it's because I was this Italian-Irish kid growing up. But it's like you're never good enough. I viscerally hate that. I feel strongly that I need to try to make my shows as real as possible. What you see is what you get.
That's why I don't go for the academic stuff. If all these brainiacs were so smart, why didn't they see the bubble coming in the 1990s? I don't give these guys much stock. I don't want just the Wharton and Yale guys on this show. I want to democratize business news.
When I say that, it's because I don't think business news is just for old white men with money. There's been an assumption that rich people watch business shows so rich people should be reporting on them. Now the business media is starting to realize that it's a much bigger world than we ever appreciated.
It's hard to say if there's a typical viewer of the show. I get email from a lot of women and minorities, and a lot of old white established guys, too. I guess the most common denominator is that it's made up of people who like things explained in plain English. They want things that are easy to understand.
Let's take the conviction in the Martha Stewart trial as an example. We had a lot of viewers who just wanted it explained to them in English. Is this woman a crook or is she not? Are there shades of sin here? We don't think our viewers have a lot of time to look exhaustively at a lot of nuance. They want to cut to the chase and look at the big picture.
I think people were bored with the general presentation of business news on TV. You know, "The Dow did this today." It's like it's cool to be dull. I'm not wedded to covering the markets. I'm intrigued by the markets, but I'd much sooner look at the bigger picture. If I can connect Main Street with Wall Street, then I've succeeded.
I'll be the first to admit that there are shows we do where I shake my head and say, "That didn't work." But when we talk about tax cuts on the show, I say let's get to the heart of what's really at issue. Let's get into class warfare. I want to push people to the edge. I want to elicit a reaction. Have I ever crossed a line? Am I a rabble-rouser? Maybe. I'm not staid and unbiased here. I have certain biases I want to convey, and if you disagree, that's fine.
I don't know if many people know this about me, but I have multiple sclerosis. So I don't have time for a lot of shades of gray. I don't have time for BS. I don't want to play nonsense games. Ever since I was diagnosed, I've had zero patience for the rudeness and vagaries of life. I've also got a short leash when it comes to jargon.
I don't want to sound too morose about this, but we're all going to die. While I'm still here, I want to make a difference. I want the best writing and the clearest thinking from everyone on the show. And I'll rail against what I think is wrong.
The good thing about having this illness is that it allows me to be a little bit crazy. It works, I guess. People tell me, "Well, you wanted a show that's different. You succeeded, all right. You've got a really nutty show."
A version of this article appeared in the Table of Contents - May 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.