A ‘Big Deal’ in World of Political Reporting Kicks Off on Spectrum News NY1

In an exclusive interview, Errol Louis of Spectrum News NY1, where his daily weekday “Inside City Hall” show has been a go-to stop on the local political circuit for over a decade, talks about his new weekly cable show, “The Big Deal.” It marks the first weekly national political show for the network.

| 11 Mar 2024 | 04:42

As we get closer to Election Day, Errol Louis is making sure his viewers are equipped with the information they need to make an informed decision in the voting booth. He said his new national show, “The Big Deal with Errol Louis,” a weekly political news program which debuted locally on Spectrum News NY1 on March 1, will do just that, and tackle “the issues that lie behind the political choices that people have to make this year.”

“The feedback has been wonderful. People really like it,” Louis, 61, told Straus News the week after the series debuted. “ I think people have a real appetite for knowing what’s going on and why.” Unlike NY1 strong local approach, the new weekly show taps into the cable giant’s resources across the country for its first foray into a national political show.

Born in Harlem and raised in New Rochelle, Louis, whose impressive educational background includes degrees from Harvard, Yale and Brooklyn Law School, has been a political news anchor on NY1 since 2010. As the host of its show “Inside City Hall,” which airs every weeknight, he’s moderated more than two dozen political debates and interviewed every New York governor and mayor.

Before joining the city’s 24-hour television news network, which, he explained, has sister channels throughout the nation, he worked at the New York Sun and the Daily News, where he sat on both publications’ editorial boards. His accomplished resume also includes teaching at Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, where he’s been an adjunct professor for the last 12 years.

You went to Harvard, Yale and Brooklyn Law. Was your original plan to become a lawyer?

Oh my God, no. I went to law school when I was about 38, a mid-career move. I went part time and graduated when I was 42. I’ve been a journalist since I was 19. This is really all I know how to do.

You worked at the New York Sun and the Daily News.

Yes, I was at the New York Sun when the relaunch of it happened in 2002. It was started by a friend, Seth Lipsky, who had been helpful to me back when I was much younger. I was a columnist and a member of their editorial board and eventually went to the Daily News and stayed there for about six years.

How did your job at NY1 come about?

From 2004 to 2010, I was on the Daily News editorial board and I was a columnist there. I also began doing some television appearances for CNN and I was a frequent guest on the “Reporters Roundtable” at NY1. That then formed my reel, so when the position opened up for a political anchor to host “Inside City Hall,” I put my name in the hat and they hired me in 2010.

Tell us about “The Big Deal” and what topics you’ll cover.

Well, unbeknownst to many New Yorkers, NY1 has sister channels all over the country, in California, Maine, Texas, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and all over the place. “The Big Deal” is a show that will air in all of those markets that talks about some of the issues that lie behind the political choices that people have to make this year. So it’s kind of our version of some of what you’ll normally see on a Sunday morning, where people talk about the issues that are being debated, the elections that are coming up and the things that people need to know as we get closer and closer to Election Day.

What are your plans for coverage as it gets closer to the election?

Well, we have about 30 weeks, there are about 30 Fridays between now and Election Day. And we want to make the best possible use of every one of them by covering all of the issues that matter. Our second episode is going to focus on the economy, the issues of inflation and employment and unemployment that everybody is worried about. It’s always an important consideration when you’re trying to assess whether or not a president should be hired or fired. And we’re going to look at it from a local point of view. We’re interviewing a family in Florida that’s having a hard time paying their bills, a family in Los Angeles that’s also struggling with inflation issues. And we’re going to talk with an economic expert about the markets, interest rates and the overall prospects of the economy.

For “Inside City Hall,” is it true that you interviewed every mayor and governor?

I’ve interviewed all of the mayors and governors from [Ed] Koch forward. They weren’t necessarily the mayor at the time that I interviewed them. And I interviewed Governors Pataki, Patterson, Spitzer, Cuomo and Hochul.

Do you have any memorable moments from those interviews?

Well, all of the moments are memorable. I’ve enjoyed talking with all of them. Something recent that was somewhat memorable was interviewing former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and asking him why he’s doing Cameo videos. My attitude was like, “Dude, you’re the mayor. What are you doing?” [Laughs] But he had an answer. His answer was ultimately, “I’m doing it for the money.” He’s made a ton of money and from his recent legal setbacks, he’s going to need every penny of it.

How do you prepare for your shows?

You definitely have to stay up on everything. And I have a rather expansive news diet, if you want to call it that, where I have subscriptions to papers in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles. I try to keep up with a lot of different information from a lot of different sources, including social media. But I read a lot of traditional news sources; I always have.

What is your role at the J-School?

I am an adjunct professor, where I have taught a course called Reporting on New York City Politics and Government for the last 12 years. It’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy it. Each class is different. They are young reporters who are hungry and curious. Many of them have gone on to do great things. My favorite situation is when I run into them in the hallway at CNN or in the hallways at NY1. One of my former students is on our show as one of our assistant producers.

Who is a dream New Yorker you’d like to interview?

Oh boy, that’s a good question. I never even thought about that. I assume I’ve already gotten to almost everybody I need to. Let’s put it this way, it’s been a while since I’ve talked to Senator Chuck Schumer. I’ve moderated a couple of debates that he’s done, but it’s been a while since I had a chance to sit down and talk with him.

If you were mayor, what would be an initiative you’d want to work on in the city?

If I were mayor, I would put a ton of money into the City University, CUNY. It’s the linchpin of our economy and they award something like 50,000 diplomas a year. It’s the largest urban public university in the country and it has lifted more people into the middle class than the entire Ivy League combined. I would just step on the gas and do everything I could to make it even more successful.