Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto beat Stage 4 cancer and was dealing with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis when he got some more great news from his doctors: he needed open-heart surgery.
With hospitals finally in the rear-view mirror after his return a little over a year ago, Cavuto, who is also senior vice president and managing editor of business news for both Fox News and Fox Business, reflected on how weathering physical challenges impacted him emotionally.
"Before I had any of these illnesses I was just a jerk. I was obsessed with my career. I would happily step on your hand if it helped me step up the ladder," he said during a phone interview this week, as he celebrated 10 years in his current role. Confronting grave health scares changed him for the better, he said.
"Life is way too short," said Cavuto, a Saint Bonaventure University graduate who with his wife, Mary, has three children. "It’s way too short to be mean to people, to be nasty to people."
Are you listening, President Trump?
Unlike his fellow Fox employee Sean Hannity, an ardent supporter of the president who recently engaged in a Twitter war with U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse after the Nebraska lawmaker criticized the president, Cavuto - who interned in President Jimmy Carter's White House back in the day - is known to call Trump's antics out. Trump won't appear on Cavuto's show, incidentally.
We didn't discuss Hannity during the phone call - but Cavuto did touch on the president's Twitter tirades.
"He’s stepping on the message by going after the messengers," Cavuto said of Trump's affinity for going after members of his own party. For example, outgoing U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican (whose sister and brother-in-law and family live in Marietta) became "Liddle Bob Corker" in a Trump tweet:
"Tacky and counterproductive," Cavuto said of such tactics. "A lot of (Trump's) ideas are sound but when you go after members of your own party you’re the one punching down. He expects them to be loyal. Loyalty works two ways."
Here's a clip of Cavuto urging the president to quit quarreling with members of his own team:
One area the president does manage to tweet about without any disparaging nicknames is the stock market and even media outlets he's painted as adversaries have had positive news to report when it comes to the numbers.
"In addition to a strong quarter for corporate earnings plus solid global economic growth, the recent stock market rally has been attributed to President Donald Trump's business-friendly plans, including corporate tax breaks, deregulation, and infrastructure spending," reported NBC News , which is among the outlets Trump has dinged as "Fake News."
"Wall Street's latest record shows how hot the stock market has become over the past year. The Dow was sitting at just 18,333 on Election Day," reported CNN , another outlet Trump has portrayed as his nemesis, going so far as to refuse to answer questions from Jim Acosta .
Since business is Cavuto's business, we asked if the market's strength is because of, in spite of, or irrespective of the current commander in chief.
"The markets have gone up appreciably, but a lot of that might be the hope among many that we get a market-friendly agenda," he said. "There have been a lot of things that could throw this market off. Anything could have persuaded sellers to come out and buyers to hide."
The GOP's stalled attempts at repealing/replacing "Obamacare," President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, uncertainty regarding NAFTA, geopolitical volatility and looming action over tax reform, to name a few.
"All of that you would think would rattle markets," Cavuto said. "It says something about the resilience of our markets and maybe investors in general that they get through and climb this wall of worry."
He thinks investors are counting on success on the tax-reform front.
"The argument is they certainly can’t risk failure," he said. "There’s very little wiggle room in the Senate. Mitch McConnell is under enormous pressure."
He is hopeful even in times of great political division that lawmakers can unite for the common purpose of serving their constituents.
"No party has the monopoly on doing things right. The American Dream isn’t based on one party’s view of the world," he said, noting once again how his personal experience has shaped his outlook. "Illness teaches you life is too short to rage about the nonsensical or to go off on tirades that make little sense."
As for the next 10 years and beyond, Cavuto said he is attuned to a unique bloc of viewers.
"If my kids are watching the show," he said, he wants them to be able to think, "My father acted honorably. He wasn’t a jerk."
"I’ve got to look not only at ratings," Cavuto concluded, "but also in the mirror."