Governor in Absentia

Montana governor Brian Schweitzer more visible on cable than in home state

Brian Schweitzer / AP
October 22, 2012

Watch CNN, and the odds are good you will see Democratic Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who appears frequently on cable news as a guest pundit. However, while the gregarious governor may be building a personal brand, his recent TV hits have put him out-of-state almost as much as in-state.

From Oct. 1 to Oct. 18, Schweitzer appeared on CNN’s "The Situation Room" nine times, frequently in the studio as a member of the "unsolicited advice panel," according to Free Beacon media tracking experts. That studio is in Washington, DC.

Schweitzer spoke on such topics as celebrity endorsements, including the recent endorsement of President Obama by reality TV star and current seven-year-old Honey Boo Boo, during his Oct. 18 appearance.

"You don't think President Obama was excited when he got the Honey Boo Boo endorsement?" CNN congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan asked the Montana governor.

"Yes, he was, because that brought another demographic to the team," Schweitzer replied.

On Oct. 12, Schweitzer also appeared on HBO’s "Real Time with Bill Maher" with Ben Affleck, the one-time paramour of Jennifer Lopez, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.). "Real Time" is aired live from Los Angeles.

Schweitzer appeared on CNN five times during the Democratic National Convention in September. Four of those appearances were on "The Situation Room."

The frequent hits on national television raise questions over just how much time Gov. Schweitzer spends in his home state.

"I doubt that most people in Montana had any idea he was making the liberal media circuit while still drawing a salary," said Carl Graham, president of the Montana Policy Institute.

"I hope he left state government in good hands, but we won't know until someone else gets in his office. I also think it says quite a lot about either his priorities or his views of Democratic candidates in Montana that he's more interested in promoting himself nationally than in campaigning for them in some very tight statewide office elections."

Schweitzer’s workload may be light. The Montana legislature is biennial, meeting only for 90 days on odd-numbered years.

The governor’s office did not return multiple requests for comment.