‘Ruthless’ skyrockets to #1 on political podcast chart days after Politico runs hit piece on conservative show

The “Ruthless” podcast has seen a sudden surge in its audience just days after Politico ran a hit piece on the conservative “variety progrum.”

Last week, Politico Magazine contributing editor Derek Robertson penned an opinion piece about the growing influential podcast, posing the question “is it any good?”

“More than 100 episodes into its run, the show has demonstrated some real strengths — two out of its three hosts being public relations professionals, they know the pressure points and hypocrisies of political media all too well, and pounce on them with righteousness — but its flaws make the overall product deeply unsatisfying,” Robertson wrote

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Robertson claimed “Ruthless” has an “awkward contradiction at its core” since co-hosts Josh Holmes, Michael Duncan and Comfortably Smug present themselves as the “bad boys of conservative talk” but the podcast is “tied inextricably to the establishment that former President Donald Trump railed against, and that its hosts almost literally embody.”

The Politico editor insisted the podcast is very “cringe,” calling the co-hosts “geriatric-millennial” for their “slew of outdated cultural references” and comparing them to “— the self-proclaimed ‘cool’ teachers trying to have a ‘rap session’ with their students.”

“Of course, making an unfunny podcast isn’t a sin, and those who eagerly listen to ‘Ruthless’ each week will be satisfied as long as they deem the aforementioned libs owned. But more than the awkwardness of what the hosts do say, it’s ultimately revealing what they don’t say about the GOP’s uneasy post-Trump status quo,” Robertson wrote. “It’s red meat for the faithful, and probably an effective Alka-Seltzer for cosseted, mainstream conservatives in liberal geographic bubbles (such as the show’s hosts). For anyone else, it’s a disorienting, frankly unpleasant listening experience — and, fatally, one that seems almost comically timid in the face of reality compared to its conservative-media rivals.”

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Robertson went on to praise its liberal counterpart “Pod Save America” as “#Resistance-flavored cultural phenomenon” and that the podcast led by former Obama staffers “was easy to understand, borne (like ‘Ruthless’) of the easy rapport between its hosts and a parade of quasi-newsy pep talks with their party’s top brass.”

However, Politico’s bashing of the conservative podcast seemed to have the opposite effect on the general public. 

“Ruthless,” which was ranked #56 among political programs on Apple Podcasts the day Robertson’s piece was published, reached #1 just one week later, according to Chartable.  

“Thanks buddy,” Smug told Robertson on Thursday. 

Earlier this week, the “Ruthless” co-hosts pummeled Robertson’s review of their show on Tuesday’s installment of the podcast.

“What it was was an opportunity for him to just launch ad hominem attacks at the variety progrum,” Holmes said about Robertson, who he said looked like former daytime TV host Sally Jessy Raphael. 

“What’s hilarious is, like, the centerpiece of his argument is, ‘I like listening to Pod Save America. I don’t like this podcasts,’ which is like, ‘Oh, perfect,’” Smug reacted, accusing Robertson of not having listened to the podcast enough since there was no mention of the “bread and butter stuff” like “horse fighting” and “fake space” nor any mention, as Holmes added, of the games they play like “Dem or Journo,” “Klain to Fame” and “King of the Hill.”

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“For him and everyone like him, they’re furious that the variety program isn’t governed by the left’s rules, right?” Holmes later said. “They’re upset that we refuse to get into that little box that the journal glitterati puts every conservative and then looks at like a zoo animal.”

“And the variety progrum doesn’t talk enough about January 6,” Duncan quipped. “But you know, he’s listening right now. And this guy has never felt more powerful in his entire life than he feels right now.”

“Ruthless” is also riding high on the recent GOP victory in Virginia with the stunning upset by gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin after spending weeks urging its listeners to vote in the election. 

Youngkin appeared on the podcast last spring during the GOP primary.

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