Full Court Press!

Full Court Press!

Photo credit: Bruce Vartan Boyajian Photography

Veteran news anchor Greta Van Susteren wasn’t the only star in the room at a launch party in her honor for Full Court Press in Washington, DC hosted by Hilton Howell, CEO of Gray Television. It’s hard to compete with 107 year old Roberta McCain, widow of Admiral John S. McCain Jr. and mother of late Senator John S. McCain (R-AZ) who arrived to celebrate the occasion with son Joe McCain.

“This is the red letter day for our company,” said Howell, “and for what I view as responsible and consistent and professional journalism because we’re gathering here today to recognize the 5th Anniversary of our Washington, DC Bureau which all of you know has been a pioneering effort here at Gray Television. That then led us into the opportunity to launch Full Court Press and so one lucky moment has led to another lucky moment and that brings us all here today.”

Hilton Howell

About Full Court Press: Full Court Press is a national, weekly news show helmed by lawyer and veteran anchor, Greta Van Susteren. Greta has spent more than 20 years in news, digging for facts and searching for solutions to issues that affect us all. Full Court Press will continue in this tradition while adding a new facet: taking an up-close look at how national laws and policies impact local communities and individuals. We will spotlight groups across the country and strive to understand the full impact of inside the Beltway politics on the average American. Greta may interview a farmer in Iowa about how tariffs impact his business, or a firefighter in California about how forest management policies affect fighting wildfires, or a diabetic in Florida about how proposed changes to Medicare will change their out of pocket costs. She will also interview the Beltway’s most powerful lawmakers, newsmakers and influencers, pushing for answers and explanations about decisions. A panels of experts will provide savvy analysis of how national events are shaping viewers’ lives.

Hilton Howell and Greta Van Susteren

“We hope that we’re doing something a little bit different,” said Greta, “taking advantage of Gray’s [technicals] all across the country in all these communities from Alaska all the way down to Florida and try to bring a greater voice to the community. So that’s the goal that we’re trying to achieve. I hope we do. The great Gray community has been so good to me. All these stations all across the country have welcomed me. I hope I don’t disappoint them. We’ve got some great stories. But anyway, it’s a new experiment. And one of the reason I want to do it is because I’ve had a lot of many wonderful years in cable. It’s really exciting. What I like about it is I go [up to] these stories before I do my show. I’d be sitting around a hotel room and when I turn on the TV, the local news is doing the same story that we were doing. And I thought: ‘Oh, they know so much more about the story because they live in the communities.’ They know that story. As much as I tried to do a really good job, I couldn’t compete with the quality of local TV. And I thought: ‘How would we capture that, how can I be part of that?’ So I’m grateful to everybody.”

Donna Shalala (D-Fla) second from left

The bi-partisan guests ranged from Rep. Shalala to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).  For a few hours, it was reminiscent of the days of Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil’s relationship with President Ronald Reagan who were polar opposites politically but didn’t let that define their relationship (plus they were both Irish) “One time Reagan confronted O’Neill about some nasty things said in the newspaper, and O’Neil replied with: ‘That’s just politics, after 6 o’clock we’re buddies–we’re friends.’ And that’s exactly what they were–frequently going out after work and simply having a beer together, and after Ronald Reagan was shot, the first person to come and visit him was Tip O’Neill. Reagan took it, that when things would get a little heated in some of their meetings, he would visibly set his watch to 6 o’clock, as a frolicsome reminder of their true identity in friendship.” Quote courtesy of Todd Starnes.