Hugh Hewitt does damage control after Trump hinted at inciting violence on his show
Washington Post columnist and Trump apologist Hewitt ridiculed “legacy media” for coverage of Trump’s national-scale protection racket
Yesterday, former President Donald Trump used an interview with right-wing columnist and radio host Hugh Hewitt to publicly issue a barely-veiled threat of political violence from his supporters, if he should have to face any legal jeopardy. Trump has already made similar threats in the past several weeks, in the wake of the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago resort that resulted in the seizure of hundreds of classified documents. In response, Hewitt used the Friday edition of his program to do damage control for the disgraced former president, pretending so-called “legacy media” had twisted what Trump obviously said.
Against that backdrop, Hewitt, one of Trump’s most reliable lackeys in right-wing media — and somebody who also has a foothold in “legacy” media himself — is essentially telling the public not to believe their own lying eyes and ears, and to forget everything they know about Trump’s proven track record of fomenting violence with disastrous results for the entire country.
Trump: If I’m indicted, “You’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before”
In a phone interview Thursday on Hugh Hewitt’s show, Trump said that if the government were to indict him, “I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”
Hewitt then inquired, with a seeming look of concern, “What kind of problems, Mr. President?”
After Trump replied that “they’d have big problems, big problems,” further claiming that people “will not sit still and stand for this ultimate of hoaxes,” Hewitt interjected, obviously recognizing the potential trouble that Trump was kicking up.
“You know that the legacy media will say you’re attempting to incite violence with that statement,” Hewitt said. “How do you respond to what will inevitably —”
“That’s not, that’s not inciting,” Trump insisted. “I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it.”
Hewitt then immediately changed subjects, asking Trump about the current state of the Chinese real estate market.
This comes on top of Trump’s long history of legitimizing violence by his supporters, his endorsement of a fascist street gang during the 2020 election, his summoning of his supporters to Washington for a “wild” time, his public defense of an attempted lynching against his own former vice president during the January 6 insurrection, and his recent promise to pardon the attackers if he were to reclaim power.
Hewitt absurdly claimed Trump’s statement was “not violence-inciting”
Trump’s comments set off a wave of media coverage, in which various mainstream figures pointed out the obvious implication that Trump was threatening “potential civil unrest.”
“It's impossible to read those lines from the former President without this context,” wrote CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza. “We are less than two years removed from a mob storming the US Capitol over the false belief that the election that had been stolen from Trump.”
Hewitt, by contrast, leapt into action by mocking all of those concerns. He tweeted Friday morning that he would be playing “clips of legacy media doing exactly what I told Trump would be left’s takeaway: inciting violence,” asserting that these media outlets had not included the former president’s response.
On his show, Hewitt played a video montage of media coverage analyzing Trump’s comments, before mocking the entire controversy. “It goes on and on and on, America. The news business should send me flowers, they should send the former president a fruit basket,” Hewitt said. “None of them played when I pressed him on violence, and he said it’s not violence-inciting, it’s simply my opinion.”
In fact, one of the video clips that Hewitt had just shown did include the moment at which Hewitt had claimed that “legacy media” would accuse Trump of inciting violence, to which Trump responded that he was “just saying what my opinion is.” Obviously, lack of context was not the cause of any differing interpretations between Hewitt and everyone else.
Hewitt’s “legacy media” crack shows professional disrespect as a Washington Post columnist
Another important point worth examining here is Hewitt’s dismissal of the news outlets that are pointing out Trump’s threats as “legacy media.” His usage of the term demonstrates his casual disregard for reporting, including by his own colleagues.
Hewitt is one of the Republican columnists for The Washington Post, a paper that has written extensively on the threats to law enforcement since the Mar-a-Lago search, as well as Trump’s role in riling up his supporters.
Moreover, the Post ran an article Thursday regarding Trump’s comments on Hewitt’s show, including Trump’s response that Hewitt falsely accused “legacy media” of having left out:
Hewitt, who is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, then noted that critics would describe the comment as inciting violence, and he asked Trump to respond to the claim. “That’s not inciting — I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it,” Trump said.
Moreover, Hewitt’s video montage even included a Washington Post headline involving the Justice Department’s investigation of January 6, before the conservative columnist cut away to attack the media coverage as going “on and on and on.”
The Washington Post actually employs Hewitt, and yet he treats it and other mainstream outlets as entirely separate entities from himself, and mere rhetorical piñatas for him to swing at whenever it pleases him. This illustrates the fool’s game that mainstream outlets play when they hire such fundamentally dishonest people from the right to be part of their teams in the name of a supposed political balance. The only result is to confer legitimacy on bad-faith actors, who will exploit their mainstream credentials when it serves their causes, and attack journalism from outside when it doesn’t.