Fact Check: Pete Buttigieg Is a 'Michael Jordan-Level Cable TV Guest'

January 12, 2023

Claim: "Pete Buttigieg is a Michael Jordan-level cable TV guest. I have never seen anyone who is even close to this good."

Who said it:

Matt Bennett, the former Michael Dukakis campaign staffer responsible for the infamous tank photo that ended the candidate's career in politics. He also cofounded Third Way, a center-left think tank for people who enjoy homework.


Bennett and other professional pundits gushed over Buttigieg's recent appearance on Fox News's Special Report, where the secretary of transportation denounced his (many) critics as homophobes in a well-rehearsed diatribe.

"How long are we going to have to wait for this brilliant person to become president?" wrote Steven Beschloss, the brother of hack historian Michael Beschloss. Both men are perfect examples of the expensively educated elite liberals who comprise Buttigieg's political base.

Why it matters:

Professional pundits love Buttigieg—a boring nerd who enjoys homework—because he reminds them of themselves, and they believe the world would be a better place if people like them were in charge of everything. They don't seem to care that he isn't very good at his current job.

When Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) announced her retirement last week, pundits instantly touted Buttigieg as a possible successor. (He has been a Michigan resident for all of six months.)

The Washington Post, among others, continues to insist (without evidence) that Buttigieg's "national stature" and "studied talent for messaging" will make him a strong contender for president in 2024 and beyond.

Additional context:

Professional pundits maintain that Buttigieg's failed presidential campaign in 2020 was "impressive." It was not.

It's true that Buttigieg performed well in Iowa and New Hampshire, irrelevant states that are 90 percent white. In states that actually matter—Nevada and South Carolina—he finished a distant third and fourth, respectively.

Buttigieg received a grand total of just 177,498 votes before ending his campaign on March 1, 2020. He barely registered a statistically significant level of support among black voters.


Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. He was a ruthless killer on the court. Above all, he was a winner. Unless Bennett was referring to Jordan's record as an NBA team owner, the comparison is absurd. The fact that so many members of our professional pundit class seem to actually believe this is a damning indictment of their ability to relate to normal Americans.

In the meaningless realm of cable TV punditry, Buttigieg is at best a slightly better than replacement-level guest. He's not even in the same league as All-Star performers such as Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.) and American icon Kate Upton.

As a politician, Buttigieg is one of the most overhyped and overrated figures in recent memory. Before running for president in 2020, his political experience consisted of two terms as mayor of the fifth-largest city in Indiana, the 17th-largest state, and a failed bid for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

It is therefore difficult to compare Buttigieg to any professional athlete in any sport. Unlike in politics, success in sports is typically determined by one's skill and a demonstrated ability to win games. Being declared a "brilliant" athlete by a small cadre of professional sports pundits does not make it so.

Verdict: We rate this claim 4 Clintons.
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