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Neil Cavuto spends 17 hours a week on air at Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. Today, he is eager to take on one more.
Cavuto, who is known for his coverage of the worlds of business and finance, will later this day turn to space, as many news outlets hope that a joint launch by NASA and entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX that was scuttled on Thursday can take place this afternoon. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley will attempt to journey to the International Space Station on a spacecraft designed by Musk’s company.
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Both of the anchor’s programs today – his regular Saturday “Cavuto Live” and his coverage at 3 p.m. – will focus on the launch. “In a decade like the ’60s, when JFK dreamed of landing on the moon, we did all of it amid wars and riots and upheaval,” says Cavuto, who notes that the nation is in the midst of similar events. “Space reminds us of the best we can do, and I think we all need to be reminded.”
Viewers may not know that Cavuto, a self-described “space nerd,” has anchored much coverage of the topic in the past. In 2004, the anchor conducted a rare joint interview with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins – all three astronauts from the Apollo 11 space flight. In 2012, he hosted a network special that had him fly around the country to talk to Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, Aldrin and Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon.
The topic has fascinated him since he was ten years old, he says. “When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an astronaut in the worst way,” he recalls. “I was always interested, and had a collection of astronaut cards and books.”
The SpaceX launch, if successful, could be revolutionary. It would mark the first time American astronauts take off from U.S. soil since 2011. And it would represent a solid step forward by one of a handful of entrepreneurs vying to make a market in privatized space travel. Like Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos eager to send human beings to the outer reaches of the stratosphere through ventures like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.
There are no guarantees a launch will take place. “It’s very dicey,” says Cavuto. “You can’t just look at the weather in Cape Canaveral or Cocoa Beach, you have to look at what’s brewing 1100 miles up the east coast.”
Cavuto will take viewers to space from his own home. Like many TV-news personnel, he has been working remotely in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. “I still put in a lot of hours, but I will say the commute is a lot easier,” he quips. “Sometimes I run into traffic on the stairs, where I have two dogs fighting for space.”
The anchor has never been shy about applying his business-reporting acumen to the biggest stories in the daily news cycle. On occasion, he uses that lens to analyze White House policy, an attribute that sometimes makes him the target of Trump supporters. Earlier this month, he sparked President Trump’s ire when he urged viewers to be very cautious about taking hydroxychloroquine, the medication Trump began to spotlight as a potential way to cure or prevent coronavirus. “This is a leap that should not be taken casually by those watching at home who are assuming, well, the president of the United States says it’s OK,” Cavuto warned during a recent broadcast. “I only make this not to make a political point here, but a life-and-death point. Be very, very careful.”
He says he’d do it again. He wasn’t trying “to disparage anyone who might think differently,” he says, adding that he was just trying to “present the facts” about how the medication could affect certain people. Cavuto has more insight into the matter than people may realize. He has long suffered from multiple sclerosis, and typically relies on his own memory and knowledge instead of an electronic prompter, because the disease has affected his vision. He has also battled cancer and made his way through triple-bypass surgery for his heart.
Later today, he hopes his newscast will deliver something he thinks Americans want: a feel-good story during a feel-bad time. During the 3 p.m. hour, he will talk to Fox News correspondent Kristin Fisher, whose parents are astronauts. “These are people who are genuine heroes,” says Cavuto of space travelers. “These are all giants in my mind.”
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