For everyone who’s attained any level of celebrity, there’s almost always an Achilles heel — and it usually involves, overtly or covertly, that person taking themselves too seriously.
Brian Crowley, author of his online Crowley Political Report (crowleypoliticalreport.com) and political analyst on the weekly Sunday morning To the Point program on WPTV, certainly doesn’t appear to be one of them.
“What interest would you possibly have in interviewing someone like me?” he asks. Sitting at the Starbucks at Belvedere Road and U.S. 1 in West Palm Beach, the veteran political commentator blends in as a former political editor, metro editor, editorial writer and Tallahassee bureau chief for the Palm Beach Post (headquartered directly next door to the coffee shop). His work has also appeared in publications such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Politico.
Born in New Jersey, Crowley moved to the Sunshine State in his youth, and practically hit the ground running as one of the state’s future political experts.
“I worked for the ‘Palm Beach Post’ from 1980 to 2008,” Crowley says. “I was metro editor for a couple years, and spent a couple years on the opinion side. But politics was always what I wanted to do. I was a product of the times, having graduated from what was then Riviera Beach High School in 1968, a year when there was a lot of national turmoil going on. Then I attended Palm Beach Junior [now State] College and the University of South Florida, and was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years.”
Casually dressed, with his recognizable glasses, professorial gray hair and beard, Crowley looks every bit the semi-retired, 70-something journalist who’s been married for decades, complete with kids and grandkids. Some passers-by recognize him and say hello.
His archives on the Crowley Political Report go back to April of 2010 and include illustrations by his brother Pat Crowley, whose own credits range from Time, Newsweek and the New York Times to the Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach ArtsPaper.
Those archives run up to March of 2022, the point at which Crowley decided to downshift, other than recording the To The Point episodes with WPTV nightly news co-anchor Michael Williams, plus one more endeavor.
“I’m working on a book about a family mystery in 1950s-1960s Florida,” he says.
Frequent Crowley Political Report topics have included commentary on the work of Florida governors Charlie Crist, Jeb Bush, Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis; senators Scott and Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and the two major American political parties.
“I’ve watched the changes in Florida since [former Republican Gov.] Jeb Bush took office,” Crowley says, “and the Democratic Party here has been getting weaker ever since [former Democratic Gov.] Lawton Chiles died in 1998. The state has 400,000 more registered Republicans now.”
Other recurring online themes include campaign advertising and financing, and the value of political polls.
“I don’t predict elections, and never have,” Crowley says. “I think there’s a lot of sloppiness and silliness in polling. With some of them, the margin of error is 6 percent, and that could be in either direction. In that case, you might as well just call your mother and ask.”
Crowley isn’t a registered voter within either major political party, and always attempts a down-the-middle, compromise-nuanced approach to critiquing both Republicans and Democrats.
“I’ve had the head of the Florida Democratic Party introduce me by saying, ‘He’s one of us.’ And I’d just smile and say nothing, because the same thing would happen with Republicans. And I get comments and emails from people in both parties telling me that they appreciate that I try to be more analytical and less judgmental. And if I can get that far, then I know they’re listening.”
Williams has the look and delivery of most national news anchors. His rapport with Crowley takes To The Point to a higher level, and he allows his colleague the last word through his “Crowley Closer.”
Williams also seems to be another Florida celebrity who appears not to take himself too seriously, and perhaps made the purposeful choice not to pursue a wider audience through advancement.
“I think that’s partially by choice,” Crowley says, who notes that he and Williams record To the Point episodes at the WPTV studio in West Palm Beach on Fridays. “There are probably family reasons. He lives in north Miami and has three adult daughters. He’s a great guy.”
To the Point airs at 10 a.m. Sundays on WPTV.