Ted Cruz defends three-times-a-week podcasting side-hustle, says it's a 'critical part of the job'
- Ted Cruz's highest-profile 2024 Democratic challenger says the Texas senator is podcasting too much.
- But Cruz argues that hosting a thrice-weekly podcast is "critical" to being effective as a senator.
Sen. Ted Cruz is, without a doubt, the single most prolific podcaster on Capitol Hill: every single week, he releases three episodes of "Verdict," each of which last anywhere from thirty minutes to more than an hour.
"It takes quite a bit of time," Cruz acknowledged during a brief interview with Insider at the Capitol on Thursday. "I work seven days a week communicating and defending the values of the people of Texas."
But as the Texas Republican seeks a third term in 2024, his first high-profile Democratic challenger — Rep. Colin Allred — is hoping to make Cruz's highly-successful side-hustle into a political liability.
"He's honestly busier being a podcaster — which he does three times a week — than actually being a senator," said Allred during an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday evening.
—Acyn (@Acyn) May 4, 2023
"I am personally insulted by the fact that this guy's doing three podcasts a week," said Allred on a podcast appearance in March, well before he launched his campaign. "I represent a little bit less than a million Texans. He represents 30 million. I am so busy."
"He's a content machine, he's not a legislative machine," Allred added.
'It is integral to doing the job'
Cruz wasn't always a podcasting maestro.
The Texas senator began the project over three years ago, during former President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial.
"It became the number one ranked podcast in the world at the time, because people found it valuable to understand what was happening in the Senate," Cruz told Insider. "That is not somehow peripheral to doing the job. It is integral to doing the job."
Though some other lawmakers also host podcasts, Cruz is well ahead of the pack in terms of the sheer volume of podcasting he does. The next most-prolific podcaster besides Cruz may be Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who releases episodes on a weekly basis.
Occasionally, the podcast has been a source of headaches. In December, the Campaign Legal Center alleged that Cruz's arrangement with iHeartMedia violates a rule prohibiting senators from accepting gifts from registered lobbyists. And in March, his former co-host called for the eradication of "transgenderism," prompting Cruz to repeatedly dodge questions on the topic.
Allred, a third-term lawmaker and former NFL linebacker who represents a Dallas-area House seat, is suggesting that Cruz's podcast is a self-promoting endeavor that detracts from the serious job of legislating and delivering constituent services.
But Cruz, who does not derive any personal income from the project, argues that it's just part of communicating with the world.
"Congressman Allred's idea that communicating with voters is somehow separate from the job is a bizarre and frankly silly idea," said Cruz. "The podcast is an incredibly valuable tool to explain the issues facing America."
He added that podcasts have a "potency" that other mediums lack, allowing him to get into "real substance."
"If you go do a TV hit, which I do every week, you're on for six, eight minutes. You have a soundbite or two, and there's value to that, but you can't really sit down and explain an issue in substance," said Cruz. "What I like about the podcast is sometimes the podcast is 20-30 minutes, sometimes it's an hour, depends on what the issue is."
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