Some top people in the White House move seamlessly into media. Think Dana Perino and George Stephanopoulos, both former press secretaries.
For others, not so much.
Symone Sanders recently tried to make the move. Sanders, who served as national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign, then worked as a senior adviser for Joe Biden in his 2020 presidential campaign before becoming the top spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, didn’t exactly knock ’em out.
“Sanders drew just 361,000 total viewers for her 4 p.m. show, titled ‘Symone,’ on Saturday,” the New York Post reported, citing newly released Nielsen ratings. “She also managed to attract just 29,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 demographic.”
For comparison, Fox News Channel’s “Fox News Live,” which ran at the same time, drew 842,000 total viewers, including 163,000 in the 25-54 demographic, the Post said.
It didn’t even help that Sanders’ first guest was first lady Jill Biden.
Before her new show debuted, Sanders, 32, said “I’m not here to be a spokesperson for the Biden administration. I had that job already,” according to The Hill.
“I’m going to be honest, and sometimes the honesty means that what I have to say is not what the administration would have to say. And that’s fine, because it’s my show,” she said.
Sanders’ program airs Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m ET. “We’re going to do today’s headlines, but we’re going to go deeper. We’re going to get to the weeds,” said Sanders, who also has served as a CNN commentator.
“I’m a millennial, and the only reason, frankly, I was turning on the TV was because of the job that I worked,” she said. “When I wake up in the morning, I’m checking Twitter, I’m checking Instagram, I check my email, I check my text messages, and I would not turn on the TV … and then the first time I see a television that’s on is when I walk into my office.”
“So my show is going to reach people like me: young people who are engaged, who are paying attention, who care, but who may not be watching TV as regularly,” Sanders said.
More than a dozen staffers in Harris’ office have bolted, including Sanders. Their exits followed a devastating USA Today/Suffolk University poll that showed Harris earning a dismal 28% approval rating — 10 points behind President Joe Biden, who sat at a not-so-pretty 38% approval.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.