UPDATE: 7/29/13–Krystal returns to co-host on “The Cycle”
UPDATE 6/7/13: Krystal announced on “The Cycle” today that she gave birth to Lowell Maxwell this afternoon, weighing in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. She says she’s feeling great, that his sister Ella has met him, and that he only cried for five seconds and is a sweet, content baby.
She added that she doesn’t feel like a superwoman working until a couple of days before the birth as it helped her psychologically to be occupied and not worrying. Congrats to Krystal!
By Stacey Gualandi/March 18, 2013
If you’ve been watching cable news lately, you’ve probably seen Krystal Ball (@KrystalBall) giving her feisty opinions on a variety of subjects from gun control legislation to Lean-In, the controversial book by Sheryl Sandberg. As one of four co-hosts on the MSNBC show, The Cycle, she joins the others daily in a live conversation about all things popular and political.
“I think that this is the place that I’m supposed to be right now in my life, and I’m tremendously grateful for it.” Krystal Ball
An accomplished Jill-of-All-Trades. this CPA, at 28, ran for Congress in Virginia. She didn’t win, but she became a much sought-after pundit on top cable talk programs.
We had the opportunity to interview Krystal on The Women’s Eye Radio Show, and in this excerpt she brings us up to date on her innovative television program, her role as a mom-to-be and her political recovery…
KRYSTAL: It is kind of funny. Yes, I feel like I have an across the pond kinship with her. I’m so glad I didn’t suffer from the kind of morning sickness that she apparently had. With the first one, I was quite sick, but I feel almost guilty with how good I’ve been feeling with this pregnancy. So knock on wood and hopefully that will continue.
STACEY: Congratulations to you! How does it feel to be pregnant while on television?
KRYSTAL: I have to say, it is a little bit nerve wracking going through the pregnancy process while you’re on air because you know people are watching. Maybe they’re thinking is she gaining weight? What does she look like? Is she hormonal? It is a little bit daunting to live through all of that in public, but I’m just going to embrace it and go with it.
STACEY: So speaking of cycles, how is the show going? You’ve been on the air for a little while now and it’s taken on a life of its own. It seems like you have great chemistry; everything is clicking.
KRYSTAL: I’m really proud of how the show’s doing. Frankly, we have a lot of fun every single day. I think what we do really well is handle various topics and try to look at solutions. But we also don’t take ourselves too seriously. As long as there’s not something really serious and heavy in the news, we try to do something every day that’s a little bit fun, a little irreverent and goofy.
KRYSTAL: That’s right. I knew Steve and Touré pretty well before the show. I didn’t know S.E. as well, and she’s the furthest to the right of the four of us. So, at the beginning, we were not sure how that was all going to go. But again, the way that we’ve all jelled has really worked well. It’s a pleasure to come into work every day and that’s such a blessing.
STACEY: It’s refreshing, too. I’m curious to know, for anybody who might not watch the show, how would you describe The Cycle?
KRYSTAL: We focus on politics and the news of the day. We give our spin on it, so to speak. And we were four pundits, so we’re all very opinionated. We put out there what’s happening, and then we all have our take on it. Another thing that we try to do is to bring in thought leaders–people who are a little bit outside of the norm and who have interesting books out and are doing interesting research.
“…this is the place that my daughter is going to inherit. I have a responsibility. I can’t just sit back and watch what happens…”
STACEY: But you have to know a little about a lot of things, right? Do you feel very confident about some subject matter and maybe not so much on others?
KRYSTAL: That’s definitely the case. There are things that are my strengths and some topics that I have to do more research on. You mentioned I ran for Congress in your introduction. I have to say I really appreciated that. It was the same deal there. You have to know something about everything that’s going on.
That was daunting when I first started, but it was very good training for this program now because I have been able to get a little bit of depth on a range of issues and feel comfortable speaking to them.
STACEY: Had you been elected to Congress from Virginia, you probably wouldn’t be doing the television show. So how do you think this differs from holding office? Are you glad that things ended up the way they did?
KRYSTAL: It’s a hard question to answer. I do think that things work out the way that they’re supposed to. I think that this is where I’m supposed to be right now in my life, and I’m tremendously grateful for it.
I do think about being a freshman member of Congress. I would be in the minority party; I wouldn’t probably have that much of a voice. So I do in some ways feel like I have more of a platform and more of a voice doing what I do now than being one of 435 in the minority in a Congress that can’t get its act together.
STACEY: What inspired you to want to run for office? You were only 28-years-old. Where were you pulling from in order to get that confidence to run?
KRYSTAL: The first thing you should know is that I was terrified. I really attribute it to becoming a mom. It sounds a little cliché, but it really was a shift to this isn’t just my country, but this is the place that my daughter is going to inherit. I have a responsibility. I can’t just sit back and watch what happens; I need to be engaged myself.
The best thing I could think to do was to run for this office in my home district and just give it my best shot. I wasn’t confident; I had all kinds of misgivings. I think like a lot of women, I was unsure if I could really handle it. I wasn’t certain I was up to the task or worthy in some ways.
STACEY: What kind of support did you have?
KRYSTAL: I had two things on my side. One, my husband was just amazingly supportive. I think a lot of times as women, rather than comparing ourselves to the competition, we compare ourselves to some ideal–this perfectly prepared, perfectly well-spoken person who doesn’t exist. And he really brought it back to me. He said, “Do you think you have something more to offer than the person who’s there now?” And that’s all it comes down to.
The other thing that really was freeing for me was taking on something that was a risk where I was not totally in control. There’s a huge fear of failure. I had to come to grips with that and just say what’s the worst case scenario? I lose. Big deal; life goes on. And no matter what I say, if I make a fool of myself, my husband and my family are still going to love me. So that was really the source of strength for me in the beginning.
STACEY: Running for office wasn’t easy, was it?
KRYSTAL: I would say overall, specific incidents aside, when you run for office, no matter who you are–the media or normal people–they want to put you in some sort of a box, some sort of a context. As a young woman, and frankly, as a young attractive woman, the box that they wanted to put me in from the beginning was airhead, not serious, etc.
So that was something I really worked very hard to overcome and was very conscious of my entire campaign. After I’d raised a lot of money, I had a very serious organization on the ground. I’d really demonstrated a level of credibility and seriousness.
I think what you’re referring to is towards the end of the campaign, some bloggers released these photos of me at a party when I was 22-years-old.
“I’m a stronger person for it, and I would not rule out running again because it was a remarkable experience…”
STACEY: Yes, that must have been a tough time for you.
KRYSTAL: Without giving the details, they were fallacious enough to get a lot of press. There was nothing illegal in there with no nakedness, but they was enough for a Congressional candidate to get a lot of attention. I have no problem talking about it now, but at the time I had worked so hard to build this thing and put my heart and soul into it, it just felt devastating.
I thought about all the people who had stuck their necks out for me and my parents and all this stuff; I really didn’t want hide in a corner. I also ultimately made the decision that I needed to come out and defend myself and not really apologize. I made that decision based on my feeling that there are going to be other young candidates who want to run for office who have party photos.
I asked myself what was the best way for me to respond so that they could look at this and say, “You know what? If I want to serve, I can do it, and I’m not going to be worried about this.”
STACEY: What do you think that whole experience of running for Congress did for you in the long run?
KRYSTAL: No question it helped me. Just on a personal level, as I was saying before, once you face that you’re a failure and it holds no power over you anymore, you do live your life in a little bit differently. Obviously, professionally it led to the opportunity that I have now, which is not a direction that I ever saw myself going in.
But like I said, I feel incredibly blessed every single day to be here, and lucky. I love my job, so professionally it certainly worked as well. People would ask me right after the campaign, “Do you feel like you’ve recovered?” You come to realize, though, there is no real total recovery because you’re just not quite the same person on the other side of it as you were going in.
I’m a stronger person for it, and I would not rule out running again because it was a remarkable experience, and I do believe in the importance of good people stepping up to serve the country.
STACEY: Yes, I agree! I’m so curious about your name. I’m sure everybody has fun with it. Krystal Ball! I don’t know if you can see things into the future, but with a name like that, you’ve got to be doing what you’re doing. It was your father that wanted to name you Krystal, right?
KRYSTAL: There are two parts of it. My dad was a physicist and he did his Ph.D. dissertation on crystals, so that was part of it. Then they had actually had a conversation during my mom’s pregnancy with my now late Aunt Carol about funny names that you could put with Ball — Basket, Foot, Butter, etc.
She suggested Krystal, and they laughed, but my dad actually liked it. So my mom stipulated that it had to begin with a K, so you can blame her for that part of it.
“I’m committed to having an impact on the country, on the world…I’m a firm believer that when you make a plan, God laughs.”
STACEY: That’s a great story! I know you’re involved with a program called She Should Run about encouraging women to run for office, but do you see yourself as an activist?
KRYSTAL: That is actually how I see myself. I’m committed to having an impact on the country, on the world. In terms of a perfect job, this sounds like a political answer, but, truly, I have now in my life had at least four total 180 degree reinventions. I am a firm believer that when you make a plan, God laughs.
STACEY: Do you think that you will actually give birth on the air as maybe a segment for your show?
KRYSTAL: Don’t give my producers any ideas! No, I don’t think that’s going to be happening, but I’m sure it would get great ratings or terrible ratings!
STACEY: I wouldn’t wish that on you, but I wish you all the best continued success on The Cycle. Krystal, it’s wonderful to talk with you. And we certainly would benefit with you running for office. As I look into the future, I can see you putting your hat back in the ring some day.