Colin Cowherd watched the wild 2016 election cycle, in which Donald Trump seized the presidency through brash appeals to voters’ base-level beliefs and emotions, and he apparently thought, “Hey, this guy is kind of like me.”
According to a fascinating piece by The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis, Cowherd sees a lot of himself in Trump. After all, they’re both bombastic Northeasterns who have built an audience in Middle America by saying basically the first thing that comes to mind, whether or not pesky facts and logic support their intuition.
Curtis gets Cowherd to delve pretty deeply into the similarities between a Trump-style populist politician and a sports radio host, and Cowherd’s introspection reveals a lot about the Fox radio and TV host’s values. Cowherd confesses to not fully thinking through everything he says, to feigning confidence in his opinions and to valuing style over substance. You know, just like Trump.
Cowherd won’t reveal whom he voted for, and he says Barack Obama is the best president of his lifetime (he puts Ronald Reagan second, which… never mind), but it’s clear he has some admiration for Trump.
First, Cowherd acknowledged that he, like Trump, doesn’t live the same life as the audience he’s appealing to, which some might construe as kind of phony. Cowherd, of course, does not see it that way.
“A lot of people in our business pull that off,” Cowherd said of the sports media. “Almost everybody. We live better lives. Every single person on that TNT pregame show flies private — they don’t talk about it.”
“Is it inauthentic?” he said. “Or is it wanting to meet people at a place where you feel like you’re communal? My show has a lot of basic messages. Discipline. Work ethic. Process over outcome. Those are just basic things that an optometrist or a farmer can relate to.”
Cowherd also said he, like Trump, doesn’t particularly care about being right, as long as he’s interesting.
“Trump at these rallies, he wasn’t paralyzed by perfection,” Cowherd said. “I’m not paralyzed. I give picks on Friday. If I go 3–2, I’m overwhelmed. In my business, being absolutely, absurdly wrong occasionally is a wonderful thing. I tell Doug Gottlieb, one of my best friends, ‘There’s no money in right. All the money’s in interesting.’”
“I’m just doing sports,” Cowherd continued. “If I’m wrong on Cam” — he turned his palms upward and shrugged his shoulders — “who cares? … I’m in the interesting business.”
And, Cowherd said, it’s not important to actually know anything, as long as you know what to talk about.
“He was very good in topic selection,” Cowherd said of Trump. “He hit on the things that, in diners, you’re talking about. He would be like, ‘The wall.’ ‘ISIS.’ The chance of me getting my head lopped off by ISIS, I could get hit by lightning six times. But that’s what people talk about.”
“The key to our show is topic selection,” Cowherd said. “It doesn’t matter how great I am on hockey.” His voice fell to a whisper. “Nobody cares.”
And, here’s one last quote from Cowherd, the most Trumpian of all.
“That’s largely my brand,” Cowherd said. “Through the years, my brand has always been ‘Everybody’s lying to you — except me.’”