The financial news anchor talks about CEO salaries, Warren Buffett and interviewing Diana Ross.
Fox Business anchor Liz Claman, 48, was born and raised in Beverly Hills. She worked as a reporter and later an anchor in Ohio before joining WHDH-TV Channel 7 in Boston, where she served as a reporter and anchor for many years. She moved to CNBC as an anchor on several different programs where her guests included major financial figures and world leaders like Warren Buffett, Suze Orman and Steve Forbes. In 2007, she joined Fox Business Network, where she hosts Countdown to the Closing Bell and cohosts Fox Business. She is the author of The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received. Claman lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.
Fox News—Fair and balanced?
Well, I’m on Fox Business Network, and Fox News is number one, so they don’t need any more praise from me. I’d rather push our fledgling network that’s doing incredibly well, and yes, we’re fair and balanced.
Warren Buffett. I landed the first long-form, live interview with him. I think Charlie Rose had done something taped, but Buffett notoriously didn’t want to do interviews. And when you’re that wealthy, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. But I worked it hard. I tuned out all the people saying he would never do it, and I picked up the phone and called him. He told me he was a fan of mine, which was interesting to me, because I really didn’t have the typical business background.
There are a million moving parts to the stock and bond market, and it’s only gotten more complicated. It’s an effort every single day, even after 12 years as a financial journalist, to understand what’s going on, whether it’s Hungary’s currency, or derivatives wildly gyrating. I go to the Liz Claman School of Business every day.
LC: If I was passionate about something and ready to put in the hours and bleed for it, yes. I think I could, if I had to.
None that I recall. Growing up in Beverly Hills, surrounded by people who were supposed to intimidate you, I think helped prepare me for that. I’m more intimidated by real life heroes who have persevered against all odds.
Diana Ross, who has all kinds of business ventures, wasn’t a nice person for me to interview. Maybe I caught her on a bad day, but she wasn’t very pleasant. I think I caught Kenny G on a bad day, too. Celebrities sometimes can be very tough. But I understand if they hate the media.
Not at all. What you see is what you get. I really didn’t like a lot of the things he said about our president, but he’s so super smart, and so much fun to interview, and he’s never trying to be something he isn’t.
I think he’s a great mayor because he can’t be bought. He shows up to everything. He cares deeply when he makes a mistake. He might not be warm and fuzzy, but he’s busy and he’s allowed to be that way. And I especially love how he doesn’t hide his Boston accent.
I guess someone like Howard Schultz, because he’s changed the cultural landscape and people’s behavior. People can’t live without Starbucks. His business has become part of our lexicon, and he’s changed the way people view a cup of coffee. But he’s also a good person and a big dreamer, and he had people all along the way telling him to quit and he didn’t. He cares about his employees.
Lasting? I’m not sure. But it’s definitely had an impact, because people are talking about it. We have 14 million unemployed people and a lot—not all—had to do with Wall Street bankers taking bets that went south. And the rest of us had to save them because we all have bank accounts. But I don’t feel like the Occupy protestors ever got their message to gel effectively.
I really try to listen. I’m not one of those reporters who comes in with a list of questions and just sticks to it. You can miss the story of your life by doing that.
No. I’ve told a lot of people, “I really hope you never do anything stupid or illegal, because I will come after you…” I have no qualms about throwing a curveball at the head of someone I might have an acquaintance with. It’s my job.
Well, for the first time in my 23-year career, I recently couldn’t finish a show because I couldn’t stop coughing, and thankfully my co-anchor covered for me. But I was devastated. I was crying and cursing myself. I will say this, too. I covered the Consumer Electronics Show in 2009 with three broken ribs and three days later did the Detroit Auto show, which entails traipsing around convention centers the size of three football fields.
I wish! We can’t take big positions in anything. The one thing I’ve learned is that the stock market is the best thing going. Since 1929, the stock market has returned, on average, something between nine and 11 percent.
When I was a journalism student at Berkeley, the only redhead on-air was a woman on ESPN named Gayle Gardner. Tim Russert came to speak to us. I raised my hand and said, “How come there are no redheads on network news?” And he said, “Well, maybe you’ll be the first one.”
Yes, I have, for Fox Business. And it was one of the proudest moments in my life.
Smart, polished, sophisticated. But we want to be understandable and interesting to everyone, not just the billionaire or the trader. You’re a smart, well-educated guy. We’re trying to put things on the air that you will both be interested in and understand. Because your money matters as much as anybody else’s.
There’s a slice of the corporate world that’s pretty greedy. But you can’t misinterpret survival as greed. When you see the guys at the top making millions and salaries getting slashed or huge layoffs, that’s not fair. But I think in most cases, the compensation for the guys at the top is connected to their performance.
It is if the company isn’t making money, and if the stock isn’t doing well. That said, some of the best CEOs I know can’t get their stock prices to budge over the last couple of years, not because of the company’s poor performance but because of headlines coming out of Europe.
Oh, me. I grew up playing chess with my Dad and he was one of the best.
Well, when they’re at the World Economic Forum, they’re trying to solve the world’s problems, rather than their own problems. I don’t know what happens when they get on their private jets to leave, but it’s a pretty impressive thing to see. So I guess the answer is optimism.
The Daily Show
They’re not news programs, but when you look, for example, at Colbert, who puts such an interesting spin on things, or Jon Stewart, who uses humor to make his point so brilliantly, it’s so much fun to look at it that way. You can learn a lot from those shows, and anyone who doesn’t realize they’re not watching a straight news broadcast has a problem.
For my purposes, The Wall Street Journal over and over again proves to be the first word in business. Online, Marketwatch.com, which I’ve been reading forever, is really solid. In fact, it’s Warren Buffett’s screen page.
I love it, because I grew up skinny, with curly red hair, braces TWICE, and freckles. So that’s just fine by me.
Very. It’s TV, not radio. Especially for women, who are held to a different standard. I’m a big feminist, but if you don’t want to be scrutinized in that way, you shouldn’t be in this business. And another thing: No matter how beautiful you are, you can’t be a dummy and do financial news.
More optimistic for America, but now we’re in this global economic maelstrom, so it’s harder than ever to look into a crystal ball.
Rob a bank. Marry money. And invest in “the kitty getting hugged by its mother” YouTube video. [Laughs.] In the end, there’s no substitute for hard work and passion.