Current TV’s newest star doesn’t swear much, but when he does, “shit” is at the top of his profanity repertoire. The word came flying out of his mouth this morning as he spilled Greek yogurt on his desk during a commercial break. Somehow he let me into his freezing Capitol Hill radio den for three and a half hours to observe.
“Oh shit, oh God,” he said.
Lucky for Bill Press, his new employer, Current TV, which is now simulcasting his morning radio show, has an eight-second delay if it ever happens while on air. This morning the network ran his radio program for the first time. The upshot: More exposure for his show with a budding network; brand new viewers who call in from around the nation from places like York, Pa. and Hollywood, Calif. The downside: “MSNBC hasn’t called in three weeks,” said Press, noting that the network that most frequently invited him on as a guest won’t likely call again anytime soon, nor will Fox News. Press doesn’t seem to mind. “The word [Current TV President] David Bohrman kept using was voyeuristic,” he tells me in an interview after the show, explaining the premise behind airing his radio show on TV. “I’m now the morning show on Current TV and happy as a clam.”
The cursing came during a commercial break as Press gulped down yogurt and sipped on coffee out of a plastic black and white Current TV thermos.
To be clear, the network ought to be more fearful of Press’s longtime producer Peter Ogburn, who also happens to be a FishbowlDC Contributor. He may glare me down while I write this, but anyone who knows Ogburn even a little knows that his language is riddled with profanity so intense that we’re not going to be able to repeat it here lest his small children read FishbowlDC this afternoon, which they have been prone to do with their milk and cookies. Needless to say, with him “shit” is the least of Current TV’s worries.
The Bill Press team, which consists of Ogburn and Dan Henning, starts obscenely early. They’re in well before 6 a.m. when everything kicks off. Airing Press’s radio program on TV doesn’t require many changes — the biggest is powder. Each of the men must don powder because, says the Current TV publicist on hand, who wants to see shiny heads?
Press was a little more orange-hued than he may have originally intended this morning. A viewer wrote on Twitter, “Just turned Current TV on — it’s a giant orange BP head. Looks like he just left the tanning booth.” WaPo national political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, a guest in studio this morning, also noticed Press’s sun-kissed face and said he looked like Soul Man. The powder might explain things. The one he used was called “Sandy.” Ogburn begrudgingly “schmeared” the gunk on at about 5:40 a.m., saying, “I’m going to look like Divine when this is over.” He thought better of it. “I’m going to look like the world’s cheapest prostitute.”
Henning returns from powdering himself and strangely looks to Ogburn for approval. “Peter, does my makeup look alright? I don’t look like a cheap whore do I?” Ogburn replies, “Well, Dan….” his voice trails off in a non-response.
Ogburn doesn’t necessarily like having the cameras peer down on him during the show, but he’s learning to accept what it feels like to be a Kardashian. “That shit is always on me,” he says with a glance toward the corner camera. “It’s terrifying.”
In segment two, Press dons a dark Trayvon Martin-inspired hoodie (as pictured above), which apparently went over swimmingly in the Los Angeles control room… Press is hitting a range of lefty notes today. He’s asking viewers about former Veep Dick Cheney‘s heart transplant. His big question: “Would you want your heart going to Dick Cheney?” Press reassured his viewers and listeners that he doesn’t wish the man harm. “I’m not saying we should let him die,” he says. But he adds, “People in their seventies. Are they the ones who should be getting new hearts? I would say no, I want it to go to someone younger. Dick Cheney has had a long life, not a good life.” Another topic: the hoodies. He’s incorporating a lot of chatter about the Martin killing, including time to rag on FNC’s Geraldo Rivera for saying that hoodies are as responsible for Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.
Other guests who came on the program today included HuffPost‘s D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim on the phone and WSJ‘s Neil King in studio. Also in studio was Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) who spoke of his nearly 90-year-old father who is still active and “still dates.” Cleaver spoke about the Martin case among other subjects.
An interesting tidbit: During Nia-Malika Henderson’s segment, Press questions her about her unusual first name. Henderson (pictured at right) says it was her idea to hyphenate her first and middle name. “I felt like my first name needed some company,” she says.
Callers say the darnedest things: A gay man phoned in and remarked that Ogburn was hotter than Henderson. “He says I am perfectly fine,” Ogburn brags.
During a commercial break, Press pipes up and asks, “Did we ever hear from Gore? What the hell happened?” Current’s co-founder Al Gore was supposed to phone in. Maybe tomorrow, says Press.
To be sure, Press delivered lines certain to make his audience swoon. “Then you have Newt Gingrich, a person with such small brains,” Press says, setting up a soundbite. “Here you have the pea-brained Newt Gingrich. Come on, Newt, shut up!”