Krystal Ball

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Krystal Ball
Krystal Ball (D), candidate for US House in VA-01 (cropped).jpg
Ball in 2009
Krystal Marie Ball

(1981-11-24) November 24, 1981 (age 41)
Alma materUniversity of Virginia (BS)
  • Political commentator
  • media host
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jonathan Dariyanani (separated), Aaron Peterson (formerly)[1]
Partner(s)Kyle Kulinski (2022–present; engaged)[2][3]
YouTube information
Associated actsKyle Kulinski
Saagar Enjeti
Breaking Points
The Hill

Krystal Marie Ball (born November 24, 1981) is an American political commentator and media host. She was previously a political candidate, as well as a television host at MSNBC, a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and a co-host of The Hill's Rising along with Saagar Enjeti.[4][5][6] In May 2021, Ball and Enjeti announced that they were leaving the show in order to release their own independent project titled Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar.[5][4][7] Ball is a co-host with Kyle Kulinski on the podcast Krystal Kyle & Friends. She has made guest appearances on networks such as CNN, CNBC, Fox News and programs including Real Time with Bill Maher.

Ball was the Democratic Party nominee for Congress in Virginia's 1st congressional district in the 2010 election, losing to Republican incumbent Rob Wittman. She co-hosted the MSNBC show The Cycle from June 2012 to July 2015. In May 2017, she created the People's House Project, a political action committee working on behalf of Democratic causes.

Early life and education[edit]

Ball was born on November 24, 1981, in King George County, Virginia, 60 miles south of Washington, D.C.[8] Her father, Edward Ball, is a physicist,[9] and mother, Rose Marie Ball, a teacher. The name Krystal came from her father, a physicist who wrote his dissertation on crystals.[10] She has two older sisters, Holly and Heidi.[11]

Ball graduated from King George High School in King George, Virginia and then attended Clemson University for one year before transferring to the University of Virginia, where she received a bachelor's degree in economics.[12]


Ball is a business owner and a certified public accountant.[13] She previously worked for the federal contractor CGI Group. Leaving CGI, she went on to design educational software in a business owned with her husband, working internationally.[14] She is a former columnist for The Atlantic.[15]

In 2012, Ball launched a website calling for a boycott of advertisers on The Rush Limbaugh Show after Limbaugh's comments about Sandra Fluke.[16][17] ThinkProgress reported on March 2, 2012, that over 50 advertisers were confirmed to have dropped the show.[18][19]

2010 U.S. House campaign[edit]

In 2010, Ball ran to represent Virginia's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican incumbent Rob Wittman. During the campaign, Ball supported education reform, including charter schools, using technology, alternative certification of teachers, and paying teachers six figure salaries.[20] She also called for a lifetime ban on lobbying by former members of Congress, banning lobbyist gifts, increasing disclosure, and establishing a new Independent Ethics Commission to investigate and audit influence by special interests.[21] 72% of her fundraising came from out-of-state donors.[22] In total, she raised $1.06 million, 20% less than Wittman.[23]

One month before the election, bloggers posted sexually suggestive photos of Ball with her then-husband from a Christmas party in 2004.[24][25][26] Her campaign had little national attention before the incident. Ball initially blamed her opponent, Wittman, for the leak as being part of a smear campaign. Wittman released a statement opposing the leak and asked the bloggers to take it down.[25] Ball also complained about the double standard of expectations for male and female candidates given the scant attention Scott Brown had received for previously posing nude in Cosmopolitan.[26] She has used the experience as a warning for future candidates about their youthful indiscretions.[24]

Ball lost to Wittman by a margin of 63.90% to 34.76%.[27]

The Cycle (2012–2015)[edit]

Hosts of The Cycle in 2013: Ari Melber, Krystal Ball, Touré and Abby Huntsman

In part due to the photo scandal from the 2010 campaign, Ball appeared on Fox News, CNN, and CNBC, and became a regular contributor for MSNBC.[28][29][30] She was a regular contributor to the HuffPost.[31] From June 25, 2012, to July 31, 2015, Ball co-hosted the MSNBC show, The Cycle, with Touré, Steve Kornacki, and S. E. Cupp.[32] Interviewed by Jill Filipovic, she explained how she launched a new career as a political commentator on television.[33] One of her most discussed monologues on the show was a 2014 critique of Hillary Clinton which urged her not to run for President.[34]

She was a Senior Fellow of the New Leaders Council.[35]

Ball's first book, Reversing the Apocalypse: Hijacking the Democratic Party to Save the World, was published in 2017, in which she argued that the Democratic Party needed to return to its New Deal roots by emulating Franklin D. Roosevelt and advocating a more economically interventionist agenda than it has done in recent decades.[36]

Political action committee[edit]

In May 2017, Ball created the People's House Project, a political action committee (PAC) working on behalf of Democratic causes.[37] It was among the largest contributors to Richard Ojeda's campaign for the West Virginia Senate.[38]

In May 2018, McClatchy wrote of her PAC:

But thus far, nobody has benefited more financially from the group than Ball herself. Of the $445,000 Ball raised for the group, she paid herself more than a third of that—$174,000—in salary, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. The majority of her salary—$104,000—came in the first three months of this year alone. That's nearly eight times more than the nearly $22,000 the PHP has used to support its dozen endorsed candidates, some of whom have received just a single $1,000 contribution. Political groups with a glaring discrepancy between personal salaries and candidate contributions are often deemed so-called "Scam PACs," a type of organization that enriches its founders while doing little to assist the cause or candidate they purportedly support.[37]

Ball responded to McClatchy's claims, stating that, because the PAC receives money in fits and starts, she paid herself a lump sum in the first months of 2018 as backpay for what she should have earned in 2017, and that her pay "was comparable to what other PAC directors typically make".[37] She also stated that her PAC does not operate in the same way as a typical PAC in that it is not a "direct conduit" of funds, and that she herself is effectively a manager for each of the candidates she works with.[39] McClatchy wrote that candidates and campaign officials that she had assisted had said that Ball "was a go-to adviser for all manner of problems and questions. Her help was especially valuable, they added, because most of them couldn't afford the kind of high-priced consultants who usually guide campaigns, especially for first-time candidates...There's no doubt that Ball actually helps the candidates they endorse. They've just backed a very different kind of candidates, and unlike most groups, they've prioritized political advice over direct financial assistance."[37]

Rising (2018–2021)[edit]

In 2018, Ball started hosting a webcast called Rising on The Hill. She originally co-hosted the webcast with Buck Sexton,[40][41] but Sexton was later replaced by Saagar Enjeti.[5][42] Ball's second book, co-authored with Enjeti, is The Populist's Guide to 2020: A New Right and New Left Are Rising, released on February 8, 2020.[43][44][45]

Ball supported Bernie Sanders's 2020 presidential campaign.[46][47][48][49] During the 2020 impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, she speculated that Democrats were using the Senate trial to keep Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in Washington, D.C. when they would otherwise be campaigning.[50]

In May 2021, Ball announced she was leaving Rising in order to produce her own independent show with Enjeti titled Breaking Points.[5][43][51]

Krystal Kyle & Friends[edit]

On January 1, 2021, Krystal Ball and Kyle Kulinski launched a new podcast called Krystal Kyle & Friends. Podcast guests have included Noam Chomsky, Nina Turner, Glenn Greenwald, Russell Brand, Marianne Williamson, Rose McGowan, Andrew Yang, Ro Khanna and Richard D. Wolff.[52]

Breaking Points[edit]

Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti (an Indian-American conservative with a "populist right" worldview and project to realign the Republican party towards unions and a welfare state)[53] left The Hill in June 2021 and established an independent program published as both a podcast and a video news show on YouTube. The show, titled Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar, achieved around three hundred thousand subscribers the first week.[43]

Personal life[edit]

Ball was married to Jonathan Dariyanani, an entrepreneur in educational software.[54][33] Ball attributes her further interest in politics to her experience after becoming a new mother during the 2008 primaries and also watching the outcome of the 2008 U.S. presidential election while working in Jordan with Dariyanani. She saw how it affected people in that country and thereby gained an appreciation for the global impact of U.S. politics.[33] Ball became engaged to fellow political commentator and co-host Kyle Kulinski in September 2022.[2][3]


  • Reversing the Apocalypse: Hijacking the Democratic Party to Save the World (Pelican Media, 2017, eBook)
  • The Populist's Guide to 2020: A New Right and New Left Are Rising (with Saagar Enjeti; Strong Arm Press, 2020, ISBN 978-1947492455)

Electoral history[edit]

Virginia's 1st Congressional District election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rob Wittman (incumbent) 135,564 63.9
Democratic Krystal Ball 73,824 34.8
Independent Greens G. Gail Parker 2,544 1.2
Write-in 304 0.1
Total votes 212,236 100
Republican hold


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  26. ^ a b Payne, Kimball (October 7, 2010). "Bloggers post revealing photos of Democrat Krystal Ball". Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  27. ^ "General and Special Elections Unofficial Results". November 2, 2010. Archived from the original on November 3, 2010.
  28. ^ Pershing, Ben (September 9, 2011). "Krystal Ball: From scandal star to professional pundit". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Archived from the original on December 21, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  29. ^ "Super Tuesday Gives No Definite Result". CNBC. March 7, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  30. ^ "Krystal Ball: Yang's MSNBC boycott shows network has 'officially lost the left'". The Hill. November 25, 2019.
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  34. ^ Simon, Johannes (January 30, 2020). "Schluss mit der proletarischen Scham!" (in German). Neues Deutschland. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  35. ^ Angueira, Lauren (November 30, 2016). "South Florida activists prepare for life under Trump". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on December 4, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2019.
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  38. ^ Stuck, Taylor (October 29, 2018). "Ojeda outraises Miller with out-of-state donations". Associated Press. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  39. ^ ""Ask The Candidates" — Krystal Ball Fires Back At Reporter, Defends People's House Project". Archived from the original on December 20, 2021.
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  50. ^ Chait, Jonathan (December 23, 2019). "Tulsi Gabbard and the Return of the Anti-Anti-Trump Left". Intelligencer. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  51. ^ Ball, Krystal [@krystalball] (May 28, 2021). "Alright here's part 1 of the big news! @esaagar and I are leaving The Hill and going independent! Sign up here to be the first to know what's next." (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 29, 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2022 – via Twitter.
  52. ^ Ball, Krystal (2021). "Krystal Kyle & Friends". Substack. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  53. ^ Purushothaman, Karthik; Enjeti, Saagar (February 17, 2021). "The American 'Populist Right' After Trump". The Wire. Archived from the original (Interview) on February 18, 2021. Retrieved June 27, 2022. Published in Hindi, Marathi, Urdi, and English
  54. ^ Here's how you can help the coronavirus response. The Hill. March 24, 2020. Archived from the original on March 11, 2022. Retrieved March 22, 2022 – via YouTube.

External links[edit]