Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who is launching Fox Business Network in a month, wasn’t telling CNBC anything it didn’t know when he told TelevisionWeek in September that “Joe Kernen is a real stud for them.”
Rather than fret that Mr. Kernen, the breezy “Squawk Box” co-anchor occasionally referred to as “the Kahuna” and “the Hair,” might be asked to be “the stud” for someone else, CNBC has locked him up early for another five years.
Mr. Kernen’s longtime agent, IMG Senior Corporate VP Sandy Montag, makes it sound very simple. “Joe has been part of the NBC family for a long time, has great relationships from the top on down, and just felt that this was the best place to continue his broadcasting career. He’s thrilled that we worked out a great new deal.”
Mr. Kernen, who was a stockbroker for 10 years before making the move to TV, makes it sound even simpler in a phone conversation that sometimes wandered into raucous (and off-the-record) territory.
“I like what I’m doing. We relaunched ‘Squawk Box’ 6 to 9. It’s the best three hours, I think, for setting the tone for the rest of the day and it’s the flagship show. It’s the longest-running show CNBC has, and I was there 11 years ago when it started. I really don’t want to do anything else,” he says.
So did Mr. Kernen/Kahuna/Hair have “stud” written into his new contract?
“After about 16 years, most people here know that that’s pretty much the case. But I don’t want to brag or toot my own horn,” he says.
As for the increase in competition after Fox Business Network debuts Oct. 15, Mr. Kernen is both complimentary and amped.
He worked for Mr. Ailes before Mr. Ailes left the NBC family to launch Fox News Network in 1996.
“Obviously I would never underestimate Roger Ailes. I admire him greatly,” Mr. Kernen says. “But we’re ready. We’re not CNN. We’re not in the position CNN was when Fox News launched.”
Take that, ummmm, CNN! Just kidding.
Is The Insider the only one who, after watching numerous promos of “Evening News” anchor Katie Couric in Iraq and Syria, was desperate to know something about that tall, gray-haired guy in the red shirt walking just behind Ms. Couric and Gen. David Petraeus, the top American military commander in Iraq? Aside from his hair and height, he stood out because he appears to be wearing nothing more substantial than a long-sleeved cotton shirt while everyone else in the clip is swathed in armor and/or fatigues. It turns out the man is a civilian aide, as yet unnamed to The Insider, to Gen. Petraeus. The Iraqi man apparently feels safe in the commander’s company, but CBS News is erring on the side of extreme caution and declined to offer further identification. So shhhhhhh.