Although Neil Cavuto looks forward to sporadic getaways to his Singer Island condo, this lifelong news junkie is more at home in the fast-paced world of broadcast journalism. He specializes in economic coverage and currently serves as an anchor for the Fox Business Network.
TV viewers know him best as the straight-talking host of such shows as Cavuto: Coast to Coast on Fox Business as well as Your World and Cavuto on Business on the Fox News Channel, but he got his start as an intern in the Carter administration.
“I would be forever pinching myself working then at the Old Executive Office Building or in the West Wing,” Cavuto says. “I never got over the sense of awe being a witness—albeit a very distant, ineffectual witness—to power.”
This experience sparked Cavuto’s love of Washington, D.C. and put him on his career path. And though he’s always been comfortable discussing highfalutin economic policies, he found it difficult to adjust to being an anchor for live television.
“My friends used to say I looked like I was doing a hostage tape when I started out,” he says. “Eventually, I got it quasi down. … I would just work very hard, but I would relish being the hardworking nerd I was and hope that people would be similarly intrigued.”
Nowadays, his life is pretty predictable: He rises before 4 a.m. and reads the news as he travels to his New York City offices to prepare for his three hours of daily broadcasting. This political season, however, has been anything but predictable.
The 2016 presidential race hits a milestone in July, when both party conventions will take place. But Cavuto has been an intricate part of the Republican race for almost a year, serving as moderator for two Fox Business Network debates. His moderating approach has been a demure one, stemming from the belief that journalists can be gatekeepers to the story but not the story themselves.
“As big a guy as I am, I try to be invisible,” he says. “If you ask a good question, the answer will keep the issue percolating.”
PBI.com recently got the opportunity to ask Cavuto the questions. Below, he discusses his life behind the camera and his favorite things to do in Florida.
PBI.com: How would you describe your general approach to conducting interviews?
Cavuto: I don’t believe there’s any substitution for hard work. Part of what I do, and I don’t mind doing it, is really making sure I’ve dotted my Is and crossed my Ts. You can’t prepare for unexpected contingencies but I think the more ready I am, even ahead of my coverage of each primary night every Tuesday or on weekends when we have primaries or caucuses or going to conventions or covering events, I get immersed in it. So I almost memorize the most ridiculous stats. My point is to really, for the benefit of the viewers, show that I’m up to speed to handle this and I’m doing my homework.
How do you juggle all that information in the moment?
Often times not well, but I always say that you try to handle what you can. I’ve developed a case of multiple sclerosis [and] gone are the days I can use a prompter because I can’t see that well. So I rely on memory for a lot of my stuff. It’s not that I’m blind or anything but just to see print from a distance is very hard, so I’ve learned from these black outs or grey outs that I get I learned early on I can’t have a teleprompter anymore. I make sure with any of the subjects or the guests I have—remember I’m doing three hours of programming a day—that I’m well up on the issues and the research and their points of view.
How often do you find yourself down at your condo in Singer Island?
Not enough. My family makes better use of it than I do and I always get the “Wish you were here, Dad” and I hear the ocean in the background. I love going there and I love Florida in general. But I simply don’t get the opportunity that I used to. But boy I’ve got a lot of friends who love to take advantage of it.
What drew you to the area originally?
I used to visit a lot as a kid. My parents had a condo in Boynton Beach. Nothing fancy—it was on the waterway there and it was [small], believe me, two cats couldn’t dance in the place. It had one bedroom but we thought we were living like the Rockefellers. We loved going there because there was so much to do. Every time we went, my parents would fill up the schedule. We’d take a day trip up to Cape Canaveral, Cape Kennedy. We’d visit Orlando—nothing like Disney World today or how it’s grown since. … I’ve always loved it. And that surprises a lot of friends of mine who say, “You know, Neil, you don’t exactly have a beach body.” And I say “Think for yourself here.” I love the state, now it’s a little tough in August, but certainly in the cooler months nothing beats it.
What do you like to do nowadays when you come down?
I’m a big fan of just walking the island or going and checking out the areas. Everything is so relaxing—down to even your shopping centers or your malls, restaurants on the water, that is so cool. I just like the idea that you can instantly relax. I’m always drawn to that. You instantly relax. You instantly chill out. Walking the beach with my sons, they get a kick out of it. There’s just something very peaceful about it. I know it’s crowded, it’s become a population mecca for a reason, but I think there’s enough room for fun and surf for everybody.
All photos courtesy of the Fox Business Network.