Politico Gushes Bill Press Knows More Than Anyone, Waits Until End of Story to Admit Horribly Low TV Ratings

Anyone who doesn’t think Politico is a left-wing rag hasn’t seen their latest gushing profile of Bill Press. Wide-eyed media reporter Mackenzie Weinger began like a fangirl: “Bill Press says there’s a simple difference between him and just about every other pundit in Washington.”

“They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about,” Press explains. Insert laugh track. But it continues:

“With a background like his, it’s not hard to understand why Press can make that boast — and live up to it,” Weinger wrote. Why, he’s worked for Gov. Jerry Brown and headed up the California Democratic Party as well as hosting on CNN and MSNBC with Pat Buchanan. This apparently gives him boasting credentials:

Press doesn’t think much of the rest of the talk-show field.

“They’ve never walked in a campaign headquarters, they’ve never worked in a campaign,” said Press, who headlines the radio and Current TV simulcast program, “Full Court Press with Bill Press, weekdays from 6-9 a.m. “I’ve been a candidate, I’ve run campaigns, I worked for the governor of California as his policy director. I was the Democratic state chair of California for three years, the largest state in the Union.”

“I kind of know what I’m talking about,” he concludes.

This would also seem to be a slam at his network's own cast of comedians and MSNBC and HLN discardables. Press also boasts he’s the only talk-show host that goes to Jay Carney briefings at the White House, where he insists he’s not a “plant.”

That’s not something other radio hosts from either side of the aisle can really say, Press said. “That White House experience just gives me a lot more access and information to what’s really going on, first-hand. I’m not just taking anybody else’s word for it,” he said.

As someone who’s sat in the briefing room daily, the primary reason for being there is either (a) asking a question of the press secretary or (b) listening to the other reporters gab before or after. The briefing itself could be watched on C-SPAN at any time. This is an empty boast. If you can come up with a time Press has rattled Carney’s cage and landed himself in other media, then he might have a point. As it is, he often just announces on his morning show what the president’s schedule looks like for the day....which makes him sound more like a plant.

Then it gets really ridiculous when Press starts talking about right-wing radio and ratings:

“I think that you get more of a propaganda factor in right-wing talk than in left-wing talk,” he said, adding that “you’ll find on the left people willing to be more critical of their own.”

The reason conservative radio — featuring such extremely successful names like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee — has been more popular than liberal radio is that “there are more of them,” Press insists. “There are more stations. They do it louder and they have a take-no-prisoners kind of approach.” There are about 2,000 news talk stations in the United States today, Press said, with just 50 of them progressive-leaning stations.

Politico’s Weinger featured no actual "take no prisoners" content from Press's show, like his recent assertion that a homosexual voting for Romney is like a "chicken voting for Colonel Sanders."  See our Bill Press page.

She consulted no conservatives in the manufacturing of this puff piece. (We are easy to contact.) There are only Press guests and employers quoted – Democrats Jamal Simmons and Eric Burns, and his Current TV boss Shelley Lewis, who unsurprisingly sells him with a complete absence of shame: “Bill is a standout — he’s so smart, so connected, so passionately progressive and so much fun to listen to and watch.” But there is the reality of having unmeasurably low ratings:

As the left-leaning news network’s morning show, Press runs directly against MSNBC’s popular “Morning Joe” in the 6-9 a.m. timeslot. But while MSNBC’s show garnered 550,000 viewers in October, “Full Court Press didn’t eke out enough viewers to even meet Nielsen’s minimum reporting standard, meaning the service cannot provide the audience numbers — and Current TV doesn’t either. (Nielsen does not provide information on how the minimum reporting standards are determined.)

Politico also displays its liberal tunnel vision by portraying Scarborough’s show as “popular” with a half-million viewers, while “Fox & Friends” has 1.4 million. Somehow, they can’t bear to mention Fox News as the standard of cable news popularity.

The better question is: If Bill Press and Current TV can't even admit how low the ratings are, why is he a "story"? Unless you're asking him why he rolls out of bed in the morning to talk to 37 people?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis