A politically liberal radio and TV host reflects on his unconventional career path.
Born in 1940, Press (Buyer's Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down, 2016, etc.) grew up a strict Catholic in Delaware City. He has happy memories of his childhood and adolescence, but with the benefit of hindsight inflected by progressivism, he observes that life in his hometown was good “as long as you were white.” His first encounter with politics came through his grandfather and father, both of whom served as mayor of their town. Knowing he also wanted a career in public service, Press decided on the priesthood. But after almost a decade studying theology in the U.S. and Europe, he chose to become a “worker priest” rather than a teacher and left for California in 1967. After a few years “protesting the war in Vietnam, counseling runaways in the Haight-Ashbury…and working for Gene McCarthy,” he went to Sacramento to begin his career as a staffer for Democratic state senator Peter Behr. Press then spent the next decade as an environmental activist and then as a key player in Jerry Brown’s 1976 presidential campaign. By 1980, the author had turned his attention to media work, which led to TV and radio jobs at stations in Los Angeles and, later, to the position—as the liberal co-host of CNN’s Crossfire—that brought him to national attention. Throughout the book, the author tends toward frequent name-dropping while expressing an unapologetically leftist perspective that often critiques the current presidential administration. Yet at the same time, he speaks with respect and affection of many of his right-leaning colleagues such as Pat Buchanan, Tucker Carlson, and John McCain. In an age where the debate between left and right has become “ugly and personal” and blighted by negativity, his ability to remain optimistic about politics and disagree with the opposition in a civil manner is a welcome relief.
A lively and refreshing memoir.