Conservative talk radio host and Trump supporter Hugh Hewitt will host his own show on MSNBC. Hewitt, who has called himself a “‘reluctant Trump’ voter," has a history of flip-flopping on Trump and his policies. He's been critical of Trump, even calling on him to be removed as the nominee twice during the presidential campaign, but has also defended him during his campaign, transition, and presidency. Hewitt's record suggests he will simply serve as a Republican shill on MSNBC and will continue spreading his right-wing punditry and misinformation.
MSNBC announces Hugh Hewitt to get his own show
TVNewser: Hewitt to host show on MSNBC. TVNewser reported on June 22 that conservative talk show host and MSNBC contributor Hugh Hewitt will host a half-hour show on Saturday mornings on MSNBC, premiering June 24. [TVNewser, 6/22/17]
Hewitt’s promotion comes amid NBC and MSNBC elevating conservative voices. Recently, NBC and MSNBC have made extensive efforts to elevate conservative voices as well as engaging in problematic access journalism. [Media Matters, 1/4/17; 2/2/17]
Hewitt urged Trump to step down one month prior to election and ultimately called himself a “‘reluctant Trump’ voter"
During Republican primary, Hewitt called Trump's campaign speech "cringe-worthy" and said Trump “entered into the most toxic region of America” and has “gotten race wrong three times.” Hewitt criticized a prepared speech Trump gave after the last Super Tuesday of the Republican primary, calling it “cringe-worthy” and saying he “cringed” when he heard Trump say that he would “take care of our African-Americans.” Hewitt also said that the speech did nothing to assuage fears that Republicans would lose seats across the nation during the 2016 election and speculated that Republicans "across the country" are wondering if they should “start calling around and finding a job.” From the June 7, 2016, edition of MSNBC’s The Place for Politics:
HUGH HEWITT: He's entered into the most toxic region of America. He's gotten race wrong three times with his down the Trump Tower speech on Mexican illegal immigrants being rapists, with the David Duke KKK comment, and then with the worst 72 hours of his campaign in over the last three days. In this speech, he wasn't just tin-eared, it was cobalt-eared at the end when he said, "We will take care of our African-Americans." I actually cringed when I heard that. There was a great three lines in there about Secretary Clinton's foreign policy failures. But I was at the end of this saying, Paul Ryan is still thinking about that Daily News cover today that said, "I'm with racist," perhaps the most bludgeoning cover I've seen since the "Drop dead" cover for Gerald Ford. I don’t think he did anything to stop the panic. I'm with James Carville. I think a lot of people are still looking at, the plane is headed towards the mountain. This could be 2006 again. The inflection point today, Brian, I think is, up until today, or actually the last 24 to 48 hours, people are thinking, we might lose the Senate, but he might win. If he names a good vice president, good [secretary of defense], good [secretary of] state, he could pull this out. And then they began to realize over the last 48 hours, he could lose the House, the Senate, governorships, state legislatures. It's a panic mode. And that speech, because of the reasons Rachel articulated, did not take it away.
BRIAN WILLIAMS (HOST): So, Hugh, what do you do? What does that mean? You can see on radar, the plane headed to the mountain, in your words -- what does it mean?
HEWITT: New pilots. You get a vice president, you get a secretary of defense, you get a secretary of state, you surround yourselves with a team, because one thing that Carville said, James said this two hours ago, there is no campaign. There isn't -- they had to bring Chris Christie across the river. They had to rush in reinforcements. I assume that Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka were involved, as well. There isn't any structure there. There isn't depth. And the writing in the speech -- Chris Matthews is a former ghost writer, so am I -- it was just pedestrian. Tell me what we take away from that other than the cringe-worthy moments and the fact that he didn't insult anybody. And he got "PPP" wrong when it was shouted out to him -- "TPP," he said, "PPP." And I think every Republican who is on the ballot across the country is wondering, do I get my resume better? Do I start calling around and finding a job? [MSNBC, The Place for Politics, 6/7/16]
Hewitt compared Trump to “stage IV cancer,” suggesting that Republicans stop Trump by changing convention rules. Politico reported on June 8 that Hewitt said accepting Trump as the nominee would be “‘like ignoring Stage IV cancer. You can’t do it, you gotta go attack it.’” Hewitt called on the Republican National Committee to change its rules and “‘let the convention decide’” whether Trump would be the nominee unless he “pulls a makeover.” From the report:
Either the Republican National Committee must change its convention rules or the presumptive Republican nominee needs to change his personality, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt remarked on his program Wednesday morning.
“They ought to get together and let the convention decide. And if Donald Trump pulls over a makeover in the next four to five weeks, great, they can keep him. It would be better if he had done so 5 weeks ago. But it’s awful and it ended bad last night," he said, in reference to Trump's speech from his swanky Westchester County golf club in which he read from a teleprompter and promised to turn the page and earn the votes of Republican voters who opposed him in the primary.
Accepting of Trump as the nominee against Hillary Clinton at this point, Hewitt said, is "like ignoring Stage IV cancer. You can’t do it, you gotta go attack it." [Politico, 6/8/16]
Hewitt described himself as a “harsh critic” of Trump’s remarks that a judge with Mexican ancestry would be biased against him. On Twitter, Hewitt described himself as a “harsh critic” of Trump’s comments that Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was overseeing the Trump University fraud case, was unfair to him because Curiel is “Hispanic” and “Mexican” and Trump is building a wall. In the same tweet, however, Hewitt asserted that Trump had “changed course” before noting that he planned to “be a harsh critic when [Trump is] president as well.” From the September 28 tweet:
Hewitt called for Trump’s withdrawal one month prior to election. The Los Angeles Times reported that before Trump’s Access Hollywood tape leaked, Hewitt “had been a reluctant, but ultimately committed Trump supporter,” having “embraced Trump after the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub” and having “asserted in July that ‘of course’ he was voting for Trump.” But on October 8, Hewitt called for Trump to withdraw his candidacy “after leaked video revealed Trump bragging about groping women.” From the October 8 report:
It's not just GOP elected officials who are backing away from Donald Trump after leaked video revealed Trump bragging about groping women.
Hugh Hewitt, an influential conservative radio host, urged Trump to step down as the Republican presidential nominee Saturday morning, predicting that more unsavory utterances from Trump's past may be unearthed.
Hewitt had been a reluctant, but ultimately committed Trump supporter. As recently as June of this year, he was calling for Republicans to change their nominating convention rules to replace Trump as the nominee.
But he embraced Trump after the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub that month, arguing the GOP candidate would be better in fighting terrorism than Hillary Clinton. And Hewitt asserted in July that "of course" he was voting for Trump, citing Supreme Court justices as his top concern. [Los Angeles Times, 10/8/16]
On Election Day, Hewitt tweeted that he was a “‘reluctant Trump’ voter.” After criticizing then-candidate Trump on the campaign trail, even at one point calling on him to drop out, Hewitt tweeted on Election Day that he was a “‘reluctant Trump’ voter”:
After inauguration, Hewitt said Trump is on “constitutional thin ice” due to his conflicts of interest and that Democrats could impeach him if they retake House in 2018. In an interview with Yahoo’s Katie Couric after Trump's inauguration, Hewitt said that Trump is on “constitutional thin ice” with his many conflicts of interest. Hewitt said “the potential is there” for the House to impeach Trump if Democrats gain the majority in 2018. From The Hill’s January 24 report:
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said Tuesday he thinks President Trump is on "constitutional thin ice" and could face impeachment if Democrats regain control of the House in 2018.
"President Trump has to be aware of the constitutional thin ice on which he skates," Hewitt said during an interview with Yahoo anchor Katie Couric, referring to allegations of conflicts of interest that have already dogged Trump in his first few days in office.
“I think it would occur after midterms and only if the House flips to the Democrats. So the potential is there, yes,” Hewitt said.
Trump has faced questions about potential conflicts of interest, including over his hotel in Washington, D.C. [The Hill, 1/24/17]
Hewitt apologized for asking Trump a difficult question during an interview. After drawing criticism from Trump and his supporters for asking him a question about foreign policy and specific terror groups during an interview, Hewitt apologized, saying that Trump “legitimately misunderstood” the question. Hewitt added that it was his “fault” because he “framed the question wrong.” From the September 14, 2015, edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
HUGH HEWITT: I've done 40 interviews with Republican presidential candidates since the last debate, and the only bump was with Donald Trump and that's because it was my fault. I framed the question wrong. I said, “You're familiar with General Soleimani and the Quds force.” I should have said, “As you know, General Soleimani runs the Quds force in Iran,” and then gone on to my question, which is, what is the impact of giving him $100 billion? So I think it's important never to play jeopardy with names and I never do. I always give the predicate. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 9/14/15; Media Matters, 9/15/15]
Hewitt defended Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey, called it “straightforward,” and toed the administration’s line that it was because of his handling of Clinton email case. In a May 10 op-ed for The Washington Post, Hewitt defended Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, whose bureau is investigating Trump’s associates for possible collusion with Russia in meddling in the 2016 election. Hewitt called the firing “straightforward” and echoed the Trump administration’s claim that it was because of how Comey handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Hewitt dismissed “anyone who thinks this is connected to a coverup of ‘Russian collusion,’” and repeatedly criticized Comey for being “wrong.” He also criticized what he called the “overwrought media” for going into “hysteria” over the firing. New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait noted that the op-ed “elides several inconvenient details,” including “the timing of the firing,” which came “in the middle of an investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia” and other reports indicating that Trump fired Comey over his handling of that investigation rather than the Clinton investigation. Chait also noted that Hewitt flip-flopped his stance on Comey’s press conference on the email case; following the statement, Hewitt “praised the FBI director as a paragon of virtue, a man ‘widely admired by everyone in [sic] both sides of the aisle.’” Chait continued, “Now Hewitt believes that very statement by this widely admired official has suddenly, ten months later, become an open-and-shut retroactive firing offense.” From Hewitt’s op-ed:
Last summer an old D.C. hand took me to one of those Beltway places of lore for lunch and a cigar and talked candidly about how shocked he was at then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to publicly discuss the Hillary Clinton email investigation and to walk the public through a hundred details of the case and then conclude she should not be prosecuted. Agree or disagree with that decision, he said, it’s not what the FBI does. Ever. Agents present facts to prosecutors. They may nudge or even push in one direction or the other, but they don’t decide. My interlocutor, a former assistant U.S. attorney and then- senior official in numerous positions and companies, was not so much outraged by Comey’s actions at the time as puzzled, perhaps even shocked.
Apparently, new Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein shared exactly that view and expressed it succinctly in his three-page memo to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Confidence in the FBI would not come back until a new director was in place, and that, of course, required that Comey be fired. Not a decision to be taken lightly, Rosenstein argued, but one he recommended that Sessions make. Sessions reviewed the recommendation, concurred and forwarded a joint recommendation to the president, who agreed.
Anyone who thinks this is connected to a coverup of “Russian collusion” has to believe that both Rosenstein and Sessions would participate in such a corrupt scheme. I don’t. It is, in fact, absurd to think that. Reread the Rosenstein memo — a few times. There’s the story. Comey was wrong in July, wrong in subsequent statements, wrong as recently as last week and refused to admit error. The story is a straight-line one, and it’s about Rosenstein.
This isn’t the “Saturday Night Massacre.” There are no tapes, no subpoenas for presidential documents, no resignations from the Justice Department, but instead recommendations from the Justice Department. It’s four months into an administration, not four years. In short, the overwrought media has toppled into hysteria again. [The Washington Post, 5/10/17; New York magazine, 5/10/17]
Hewitt suggested that Trump might be playing “clueless” in order to trick Russia “as effectively as he played the U.S. media throughout 2015 and 2016.” In a Washington Post op-ed titled “What if Trump is playing Russia like he played the media?” Hewitt suggested Trump may be pretending he “just doesn’t know much about many aspects of national security,” adding that Trump may be “playing the Russians and Vladimir Putin as effectively as he played the U.S. media.” From the January 4 op-ed:
Is it better to be thought a lightweight and dismissed by rivals if you are in fact talented, ambitious and ready to strike? To be thought clueless when in fact you have a plan?
Now for the stretch on your part — and mine: What if President-elect Donald Trump is playing the Russians and Vladimir Putin as effectively as he played the U.S. media throughout 2015 and 2016?
What if the incoming president has a strategic vision that views China, Iran and radical Sunni Islamists as far greater threats to U.S. national security than Russia is? Even if Russia is rightly understood, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put it after President Obama’s imposition of sanctions, as “not our friend,” and is “guilty, guilty, guilty” of interfering in our election and harassing our diplomats, as I and most conservatives believe?
I know the guffaws that just erupted. I have firsthand knowledge that the new president is not — or at least was not — educated in matters such as the nuclear triad or the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah. The collective, deep, probably unbendable assumption is that he just doesn’t know much about many aspects of national security. From that assumption it is an easy, and dangerous, leap to “he’s clueless, cannot learn and has no interest in learning.”
That might be true. Or it might be that Trump is, first and foremost, a developer, who will bring a developer’s habits and strengths to the presidency. [The Washington Post, 1/4/17]
Hewitt attempted to rehab Trump’s claim that Obama was the “founder of ISIS” in an interview. In an interview on his radio show, Hewitt tried to help Trump walk back his claim that Obama was the “founder of ISIS,” telling Trump, “I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum [for ISIS]. He lost the peace,” which Trump contradicted, saying, “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS.” Later in the interview, Hewitt agreed with Trump when the then-Republican presidential nominee said that if Obama “had done things properly, you wouldn’t have ISIS.” From the transcript of the August 11 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show:
HUGH HEWITT: I’ve got two more questions. Last night, you said the President was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.
DONALD TRUMP: No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.
HH: But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them.
DT: I don’t care. He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay?
HH: Well, that, you know, I have a saying, Donald Trump, the mnemonic device I use is Every Liberal Really Seems So, So Sad. E is for Egypt, L is for Libya, S is for Syria, R is for Russia reset. They screwed everything up. You don’t get any argument from me. But by using the term founder, they’re hitting with you on this again. Mistake?
DT: No, it’s no mistake. Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it. I give him the most valuable player award. And I give it to him, and I give it to, I gave the co-founder to Hillary. I don’t know if you heard that.
HH: I did. I did. I played it.
DT: I gave her the co-founder.
HH: I know what you’re arguing…
DT: You’re not, and let me ask you, do you not like that?
HH: I don’t. I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn’t create ISIS. That’s what I would say.
DT: Well, I disagree.
HH: All right, that’s okay.
DT: I mean, with his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about.
DT: If he would have done things properly, you wouldn’t have had ISIS.
HH: That’s true.
DT: Therefore, he was the founder of ISIS. [Salem Radio Network, The Hugh Hewitt Show, 8/11/16]
Hewitt deflected blame from Trump after the botched Yemen raid, urging officials to “listen to Donald Trump differently.” Hewitt defended Trump after the president seemed to blame “the generals” for a botched raid in Yemen that led to the death of an American soldier, stating, “I always try and listen to Donald Trump differently than I listen to other people.” From the February 28 of MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams:
BRIAN WILLIAMS (HOST): Will you concede that in the run-up of the last 12 hours before this speech tonight, the president got a little sideways on the mission itself? Seeming to indicate in his interview with Fox & Friends, seeming to blame, quote, "the generals" for losing Ryan in this mission and not seeming to grasp that the title commander-in-chief means just that. It's all on you, that's part of the job.
HUGH HEWITT: Well, I'm not going to concede that, Brian, because I understood it -- again, I always try and listen to Donald Trump differently than I listen to other people, having been involved in so many exchanges with him. I think what he was trying to say is that the mission was planned on President Obama's watch. It was executed with the approval of the generals, and it did, as he said in the speech tonight, contribute to the national security.
WILLIAMS: But did you just tell us we have to listen to him differently?
HEWITT: Yes, I did, and I --
WILLIAMS: How does that go?
HEWITT: And I put that down to the fact that -- It's going to go very well outside of the beltway, or outside of the Acela corridor. You know, Salina Zito's famous comment, "Some people take him seriously and not literally. Others take him literally and not seriously." It boomerangs around pretty much every news cycle, and tonight, you could take him both literally and seriously. [MSNBC, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, 2/28/17]
Hewitt inaccurately claimed the FBI is investigating the Obama administration for Trump’s baseless wiretap allegations. Hewitt gave credence to Trump’s baseless claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower by falsely claiming that there was an ongoing FBI investigation into “whether or not there was abuse of political power” by the Obama administration. MSNBC’s Joy Reid corrected Hewitt, pointing out that FBI Director James Comey “said in an open hearing that they and the NSA have already concluded that Trump's lie about President Obama wiretapping him never happened.” From the March 24 edition of MSNBC Live:
HUGH HEWITT: Well, there are three investigations, and I have to disagree with my friend Joy. The first investigation is into Russia's interference with our election. That's proceeding. The second is into collusion between anyone on team Trump and Russia. That's proceeding. The third one, intimated by Chairman Nunes, is to whether or not there was abuse of political power, and that is proceeding. They're all run by the FBI, and whether or not one cares for the optics of Devin Nunes, I have great confidence in [FBI] Director [James] Comey.
JOY REID: Hugh said one thing that was actually incorrect, and I want to make sure that I correct that. There are only two FBI investigations going on, not three. There is one investigation into, we believe, members of the Trump campaign, including Paul Manafort likely and probably including Carter Page, and whether they colluded with the Russians. There is also an investigation into sort of the larger Trump campaign and potential collusion with a foreign power. There is not -- the FBI is not investigating alleged abuse of power by the Obama administration. The FBI director said in an open hearing that they and the NSA have already concluded that Trump's lie about President Obama wiretapping him never happened. It didn't happen. We've heard it from Comey. We've heard it from the NSA. They ain't investigating that, Hugh. [MSNBC, MSNBC Live, 3/24/17]
Hewitt called Trump’s falsehood-ridden anti-immigration speech “sophisticated and very powerful.” After Trump gave an anti-immigration campaign speech that was derided for the falsehoods it contained, Hewitt praised the presidential candidate for providing “clarity.” Hewitt also asserted that Trump articulated “mainstream policy,” calling it “sophisticated and very powerful.” From the August 31 edition of MSNBC’s The Place for Politics:
STEVE KORNACKI (HOST): Do you think [Trump] provided clarity tonight, and do you think that that clarity that he provided, will it attract new voters who weren't already with him?
HUGH HEWITT: He provided clarity from the beginning of the day to the end, I think, Steve. It was his very best day of his presidential campaign. Bill Kristol earlier with Lawrence O'Donnell was making, I think, the key takeaway. When you start with the morning, bad news for Hillary Clinton all over the place. Her negatives are down in the Washington Post poll. Obamacare is falling apart. Thirty new concealed emails on Benghazi.
Donald Trump goes down to Mexico, has a very perfectly normal diplomatic engagement with the president of Mexico, has a great press conference afterwards, takes questions, which Secretary Clinton won't take from the press in any setting, and then comes back and gives a very, very sophisticated speech that I think mirrors -- I did 170 interviews with active Republican presidential candidates. That was the mainstream policy what he articulated today. We do points one through 10 first, and then we'll talk about the other people. I think it is a softening. I think it was sophisticated and very powerful. [MSNBC, The Place for Politics, 8/31/16; PolitiFact, 9/1/16; ThinkProgress, 8/31/16; NBC News, 9/1/16]
Hewitt said that “fact-checking doesn’t matter in these things” while praising Trump’s debate performance. After the January 14, 2016, Fox Business Republican presidential debate, Hewitt praised Trump’s “command presence” on television and diminished the importance of fact-checking after fact checkers called out Trump’s inaccuracies, asserting that “fact-checking doesn’t matter in these things.” Hewitt added that “what matters is personality and aura and your command presence.” Hewitt also said that he kept “marveling” at Trump’s performance, saying, “He reaches through the screen sometimes and you know you’re back on Celebrity Apprentice. It’s an amazing skill set.” From the January 15, 2016, edition of CNN’s New Day:
HUGH HEWITT: Using my boxing analogy, in the 15th round Marco Rubio laid one on Ted Cruz. But here's the deal about fact-checkers. Nick Kristof, terrific columnist for The New York Times, tweeted out that Donald Trump said, in fact, in his hearing that he wanted a 45 percent tariff. Fact-checking doesn't matter in these things. What matters is personality and aura and your command presence and of all those two, the best command presence last night was Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. And I keep marveling at how Donald Trump can dominate a television screen. He reaches through the screen sometimes and you know you're back on Celebrity Apprentice. It's an amazing skill set. And so whether or not he said 45 percent or not, or whether or not Chris Christie said, I like Alisyn Sotomayor, I would vote for her, or whether or not Ted Cruz said this or that on H1B visas, none of that stuff matters when you go to vote. What matters is who can beat Hillary Clinton. That's the bottom line for Republican voters. My friends here, both are going to support, I assume, Jeffrey is, I'm not sure about Michael, we'll let Michael decide for himself, I think he might have gone over to the dark side, but we'll decide who's going to vote -- who can beat Hillary Clinton and right now, that's open question.
ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Fact-checking doesn't matter. Well hold, we have to --
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Well, Hugh, when somebody says the facts don't matter --
SMERCONISH: -- if someone says the facts don't matter, I would suggest they're the one who went to the dark side.
HEWITT: I didn't say that. I said fact-checkers don't matter.
CAMEROTA: Right, you said fact-checking doesn't matter. Truer words during this election probably never spoken. [CNN, New Day, 1/15/16]
Hewitt echoed Trump’s claim that MoveOn.Org protesters were at a Trump rally “to start a riot.” Hewitt accused MoveOn.org of encouraging violence at a Trump rally, saying, “These protesters are not protesters. They are going to his rallies to cause disruption.” From the March 14, 2016, edition of CNN Newsroom:
HUGH HEWITT: Donald's very right, by the way. The people going to his rallies are not going there to protest; they're going there to disrupt. And I was frankly shocked that Jennifer Granholm is on this station encouraging what is in essence an invitation to violence at these rallies.
Donald Trump is absolutely right -- these protesters are not protesters. They are going to his rallies to cause disruption.
Hillary Clinton last night said that Donald Trump is an arsonist. Well what I just saw with Jennifer Granholm and MoveOn.org, that's the arson. I mean, they want to blame the fire on Donald Trump, but they're setting it at MoveOn.org and Jennifer Granholm is setting it. And Hillary set it last night. So I don't know how you build this giant pillar of dry wood and then you send in the gasoline and the matches via MoveOn.org and Hillary steps back and says, oh my this is terrible. Donald Trump is exactly right that they should stay away from his rallies or they should peacefully protest. But I’ve seen the tape. You’ve seen the tape. Those people in Chicago were there to start a riot. Classic [Saul] Alinsky tactic. [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 3/14/16]
Hewitt claimed that an anti-Muslim Trump supporter at campaign event was “a plant.” Hewitt cast doubt on whether an audience member who asked Trump an anti-Muslim question at a town hall event was “for real” and suggested he might be “a plant” during an episode of Fox News’ Hannity. Hewitt also called it a “made-up controversy” and “a fake controversy designed to embarrass Donald Trump.” From the September 21, 2015, episode:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): What do you think of the issue of Ben Carson, who we just interviewed, and his comments about Islam or a Muslim president, and do you think it was fair for the media to jump on Donald for something that somebody in the audience is asking him, and people called my radio show that were there, were saying that Donald really didn't want to embarrass the guy?
HUGH HEWITT: Yeah, let me go to the latter question first. I think that was a made-up controversy. I'm not even sure that guy is for real and wasn't a plant. And I also have been in a number of situations where I cannot hear, where I do not know what the question is. And you've been there too -- you don't know quite how to react.
HANNITY: I've been there many times.
HEWITT: Totally a fake controversy designed to embarrass Donald Trump. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/21/15]
Hewitt: Comey keeping contemporaneous memos on interactions with Trump is “kind of creepy.” Following news that former FBI Director James Comey kept memos in real time about his interactions with Trump in which the president asked him to back off from investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Hewitt said Comey’s behavior was “kind of creepy.” From the May 17 edition of MSNBC’s MSNBC Live:
CHRIS JANSING (HOST): Do you have a sense, Hugh, though, that the tide has turned? I mean when you talk about people like [Rep.] Jason Chaffetz [(R-UT)], now granted, he’s decided he's going to go back to Utah, but he is asking for all of the relevant information. Any tapes that might exist. We haven't even gotten to the president suggesting that there might be tapes of all this. You have [Rep. Justin] Amash [(R-MI)] now saying he thinks that this could be an impeachable offense. You have John McCain drawing some parallels to Watergate. You've got a lot of sources within the Republican Party, obviously. Do you sense at all that what we learned over the last 12, 18 hours from The New York Times, then our own reporting here at NBC, that the tide is starting to turn against the president?
HUGH HEWITT: The attention is starting to turn to specific lines of the inquiry. And I think that focus is going to increase and dramatically intensify if we get these memos. But I have to disagree with Michael. What the Jason Chaffetzes asked for, what [Sen.] Ben Sasse [(R-NE)] wants, are all of the [former FBI Director James] Comey memos that are talked about in The New York Times today. He took meticulous memos, allegedly, of every meeting with the president. What Ben Sasse wants to know is what other people did he take memos about? [Former FBI] Director [Robert] Mueller did take handwritten notes about that very famous meeting at [former Attorney General] John Ashcraft's hospital bed, but it’s never been said that he kept daily logs of his interaction with the president. That, in fact, is kind of creepy. It’s like J. Edgar Hoover. And I do believe there's a big investigation with a lot of potential tenpins being bowled over in every direction, and there is going to be a lot of intensification of focus on it in the weeks ahead. But we cannot jump from a New York Times story that was dictated by a friend of Comey's to a New York Times reporter to impeachment or crisis. What we have to do is get the memos, if there are White House tapes -- by the way, Ben Sasse said he wants those tapes as well -- get everything and look at everything, and at everyone. And by the way, this doesn't stop with this administration. Director Mueller -- Mueller was the director when [former Attorney General] Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton, when Lois Lerner was at the IRS. There are lots of handwritten or personally dictated memos by Director Comey that we need to get into the hands of the Article I oversight authorities of the Congress and let the chips fall, Chris. Let the chips fall. [MSNBC, MSNBC Live, 5/17/17]
Hewitt has lavished praise on members of the Trump administration, including Michael Flynn after his firing
Hewitt praised Michael Flynn in the wake of his resignation for lying to the vice president and before revelations that he accepted payments from foreign governments. In a Washington Post op-ed, Hewitt praised Michael Flynn as “a highly respected warrior” with “unquestioned” “battlefield gifts” after Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser amid revelations that he had lied to the vice president. In his op-ed, Hewitt said that “Flynn’s imprint on actual executive branch history seems monumental” and praised him for helping Trump “assemble an impressive national security team.” From the February 16 op-ed:
President Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, didn’t make it a month. Still, compared with failed nominees John Tower (George H.W. Bush’s first choice for defense secretary), Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood (Clinton’s first and second choices for attorney general), and now my friend and the latest victim of Beltway ritual sacrifice, Andrew Puzder, Flynn’s imprint on actual executive branch history seems monumental.
After all, Flynn helped Trump assemble an impressive national security team that includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the nominee for director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. Flynn left his mark, even if his quick exit was uncomfortable for all and mysterious to most. He is a highly respected warrior, and his battlefield gifts are unquestioned, but those skill sets don’t always transition well to the political world. [The Washington Post, 2/16/17; CNN.com, 4/30/17]
Hewitt praised chief strategist Bannon for calling media “the opposition party,” saying his comments were “a good idea” and that Bannon is “absolutely right.” After White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon told The New York Times that the media “is the opposition party,” Hewitt praised him on his show. Hewitt said it was “a good idea” for Bannon to make those comments and called him “absolutely right,” adding: “The media is the opposition party.” From the January 27 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show:
HUGH HEWITT: What is a good idea is what Stephen Bannon did with The New York Times yesterday. He gave them an interview, and he said, “The media, here, is the opposition party.” He’s absolutely right. Absolutely right. The media is the opposition party. [Salem Radio Network, The Hugh Hewitt Show, 1/27/17]
Hewitt called Attorney General Sessions “probably the most qualified AG nominee in 30 years.” During a December 12 interview with White House senior counsel Kellyanne Conway, Hewitt praised Jeff Sessions -- who was a nominee for attorney general at the time -- as “probably the most qualified AG nominee in 30 years given his time as U.S. Attorney, AUSA and in the Senate.” From a transcript of the December 12 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show:
HUGH HEWITT: Yeah, I agree with that. Let me ask you about standing up the departments, Kellyanne. Jeff Sessions, probably the most qualified AG nominee in 30 years given his time as U.S. Attorney, AUSA and in the Senate. But does the President-Elect sit with him, and did he delegate to him the selection of the Solicitor General? Or is the President-Elect saying look, John Eastman’s over here, or this great lawyer’s over here? Did he delegate the selection of the sub-cabinet to the cabinet appointees? Or is it iterative? [Salem Radio Network, The Hugh Hewitt Show, 12/12/16]
Hewitt praised press secretary Spicer as “a straight shooter.” Hewitt tweeted a congratulations to Sean Spicer when he was announced as incoming White House press secretary, writing that it would be good to have a “straight shooter back in the White House press room.” [Twitter, 12/22/16]
Hewitt has a history of offering reliably right-wing and inaccurate commentary, he regularly pushes anti-choice myths, and he suggested Rush Limbaugh for climate change commission
Hewitt pushed the “partial-birth abortion” myth, saying that “it turns your stomach, and it ought to.” Hewitt has pushed the myth of “partial-birth” abortion, which “is not a medical term,” according to NPR, and was “made up … to make abortion seem gruesome,” according to Rolling Stone. On his radio show, Hewitt called the nonexistent procedure “horrific,” adding, “It turns your stomach, and it ought to.” From a 2016 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show:
HUGH HEWITT (HOST): Because [Supreme Court Justice] Anthony Kennedy was so astonished at the defection that [former Supreme Court Justices] David Souter and Sandra Day O'Connor made on him, he wrote a very detailed description of the horrific procedure that is late-term abortion, partial-birth abortion. And it turns your stomach, and it ought to. [Salem Radio Network, The Hugh Hewitt Show, 2016; Media Matters, 10/12/16]
Hewitt: “good for @Mike_Pence to stand for pro-life views in America. And for pro-adoption. And to rightly condemn partial birth abortion.”
Hewitt advocated for “criminal investigations” into Planned Parenthood. Hewitt cited a series of deceptively edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood released by anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) to call for “criminal investigations” into the health care provider.
Hewitt pushed the deceptively edited CMP videos on NBC, accusing Planned Parenthood of “trafficking in body parts.” Appearing on NBC’s Meet The Press, Hewitt hyped CMP’s deceptively edited videos, calling their contents “terrible” and “awful” and asserting that “you have to avert your eyes because it’s murder.” Hewitt then falsely claimed that the videos revealed “Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in body parts,” adding that “they should not be funded by the federal government if they’re going to trade in body parts.” From the September 20, 2015, episode:
HUGH HEWITT: I want to borrow from Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: Planned Parenthood can’t handle the truth. And if the president of the United States wants to shut down the government over these videos, I hope they take [Rep.] Cathy McMorris Rodgers [R-WA], who is the chairman of the House Republican Conference, and have her speak three times a day during the shutdown with those videos rolling in the background. I have watched them. I heard that technician. I believe Carly Fiorina intended to say that if you hear someone talking about this, because they’re so terrible, they’re so awful, that they get jumbled in your head, and you have to avert your eyes because it’s murder. And so if Planned Parenthood wants to occasion the endless roll of those videos, which they are doing, they’ll stand on that hill all day. But I hope Cathy McMorris Rodgers, if the government shuts down and the president shuts the government down in order to fund Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in body parts, that that’s how they handle it.
HEWITT: They should not be funded by the federal government if they’re going to trade in body parts. They shouldn’t. There shouldn’t be a dime for them if they’re going to do that. [NBC, Meet The Press, 9/20/15]
Hewitt suggested putting climate science denier Rush Limbaugh on a commission to study climate change. In a Washington Post op-ed, Hewitt suggested that Trump should appoint Rush Limbaugh to a special commission to study climate change, arguing that “the country needs such a body.” Hewitt maintained that such a group of "diverse, smart non-scientists who are going to listen to the scientists -- all of them -- and report back on what ought to be done” should be “led by men and women of impeccable credentials.” Hewitt also argued that “when it comes to climate change, we don’t know enough about the cost of premium or the nature of the risk.” Limbaugh has long been a promoter of some of the most over-the-top and fringiest climate science denial and climate-related conspiracy theories. Among other things, Limbaugh concocted a conspiracy theory that the federal government was overstating Hurricane Matthew’s severity in order to manufacture concern about climate change; claimed that NASA’s announcement that it had found water on Mars was part of a climate change conspiracy; and distorted a study from Duke University, claiming it shows that "there isn't any [global] warming going on." From the February 9 Washington Post op-ed:
Imagine, if you will, an August 2017 Post headline: “McChrystal Commission report surprises, energizes and outrages.” The first paragraph reads:
“The much-anticipated and closely guarded final report of the McChrystal Commission on Climate Change released Tuesday shook nearly every interest and player in the capital. The commission, headed by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and including such luminaries of left and right as Oprah Winfrey and Rush Limbaugh and such captains of industry as Bill Gates and Peter Thiel, kept its work secret and its executive summary short and accessible. President Trump tweeted: “THANK YOU General McChrystal and colleagues. Great work. All must read and think on your report carefully!”
This is a not-yet-established commission, of course, and I don’t know whether the remarkable McChrystal would agree to lead it or if Trump would empanel it. I only know the country needs such a body, just as it needed the National Commission for Social Security Reform more than three decades ago.
[The “insurance policy” theory of combating climate change is] a good argument — but only an argument — because when it comes to climate change, we don’t know enough about the cost of the premium or the nature of the risk. Thus, a national commission led by men and women of impeccable credentials and also populated with visible and controversial opinion leaders of left and right would serve us well. We are told so many things about climate change, in a conclusory and often condescending fashion. As a result, both the town criers of apocalypse and the town cynics who wear a never-ending sneer have lost the ability to be heard by, much less move, the center.
So what, if anything, ought to be done in light of what, if any, significant dangers lurk — especially if either or both of China and India continue on their emissions trajectory? That would render U.S. actions at best noble gestures and at worst moot and economically self-destructive gestures. Yes, I know about the Paris Accord and the “undertakings” of the big emitters but — the key — I don’t trust it or them.
I don’t know who to trust actually on these issues. But I would take very seriously the recommendations of a such a commission, and tens of millions would at least pay attention if it is populated in part by big names from entertainment. Winfrey and Limbaugh built and sustained the two largest audiences of the past 30 years after all. Dismiss them if you will, but only two people have accomplished that. Add on a Sheryl Sandberg if you’d like, provided there was also a Thiel to complement the Facebook chief operating officer. You get the picture: Diverse, smart non-scientists who are going to listen to the scientists — all of them — and report back on what ought to be done. [The Washington Post, 2/9/17; Media Matters, 2/10/17]
Hewitt claimed the Iraq War was one of Bush’s “wisest” decisions. On the March 21, 2006, edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Hewitt claimed that former President George W. Bush’s decision to enter into a war with Iraq was “one of the wisest he has ever made.” Hewitt added that "a great deal of American mainstream media is invested in the idea that [the Iraq War] is a disaster." [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 3/21/06]
Hewitt dismissed the need for a “hate group” label. In a conversation on CNN, Hewitt defended hate group leader Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy, saying it is “not a hate group.” Hewitt then blamed the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which designated Gaffney’s organization as a “hate group,” for “using these words broadly, rapidly, or irresponsibly.” Media figures have called Gaffney a “notorious Islamophobe” and “anti-Muslim extremist,” as well as a “conspiracy theorist.” From the December 7, 2015, edition of CNN Tonight:
HUGH HEWITT: By the way, I’ve got to correct Jeff Zeleny. Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy are not a hate group. The Southern Poverty Law Center almost got people killed two years ago when they labeled the Family Research Council as a hate group. And I reject the idea that we should be using these words broadly, rapidly, or irresponsibly. [CNN, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, 12/7/15; Media Matters, 12/8/15]
Hewitt claimed a 2008 football game would be “probably the last football game we'll ever get to see before the United States gets blown up by the Islamists under Obama.” During the June 25, 2008, edition of his radio show, Hewitt said that an upcoming college football game may be “probably the last football game we'll ever get to see before the United States gets blown up by the Islamists under Obama.” From Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show:
HUGH HEWITT (HOST): By the way, I'm still trying to find two tickets to the Ohio State-USC game. And none of the USC people will give up their tickets to me. I'd pay fair price. They know Ohio State's gonna slaughter the Trojans. They know that they're gonna slaughter the Trojans, and therefore they do not want me there at the bloodbath, since it's probably the last football game we'll ever get to see before the United States gets blown up by the Islamists under Obama. [Salem Radio Network, The Hugh Hewitt Show, 6/25/08]
Hewitt downplayed Indiana’s anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom" law and misleadingly compared it to a law in D.C. During a 2015 interview with then-Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, Hewitt asked for Bush's opinion of Indiana’s anti-LGBTQ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), pointing out that not many Republicans had defended Pence for signing it. In the interview, Hewitt misleadingly conflated the federal 1993 RFRA currently in effect in the District of Columbia with the newer -- and broader -- state versions, of which Indiana's is the latest example. Neither other state RFRAs nor the federal RFRA, however, have the same reach as Indiana's law, which -- even after it was amended post-public outcry -- explicitly includes corporations as opposed to just people, and allows religious beliefs to be used as a legal defense against an anti-discrimination claim in civil cases even when the government is not involved. [Media Matters, 3/30/15]
Hewitt has close ties to the nation’s largest anti-LGBTQ hate group. Hewitt is listed as a faculty member for the Blackstone Legal Fellowship, a flagship fellowship program for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) -- the nation’s largest anti-LGBTQ hate group. In February of this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated ADF as a hate group because ADF’s leaders and affiliated lawyers have “regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them ‘evil’ and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the ‘persecution of devout Christians.’” ADF has also defended the criminalization of LGBTQ people domestically and internationally. In addition to being a faculty member of ADF’s training program, Hewitt has interviewed representatives of the hate group on his radio show multiple times. In February 2015, Hewitt said on his radio show that he was helping ADF “raise money” for one of its clients. In 2013, Hewitt was listed as part of a group of Salem Radio Network talk hosts who distributed “facts on traditional marriage” in “concert” with ADF. [Blackstone Legal Fellowship, accessed 5/31/17; Media Matters, 2/15/17; hughhewitt.com, 7/8/14, 11/12/14, 4/19/17; Alliance Defending Freedom, 9/18/12; hughhewitt.com, 2/27/15; hisair.net, January-April 2013]
Hewitt called for Senate Republicans to hold “no hearings” and “no votes” for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, after having complained when a Bush nominee did not get a vote. The day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Hewitt published a column in The Washington Examiner titled “No hearings. No votes” in which he called for Republicans in the Senate to refuse to hold a hearing or vote on any potential nominee named by Obama. Hewitt claimed, "Lame duck presidents don't get to make successful nominations for lifetime appointments in an election year. Not in 2016. Not for the past 80 years." In 2005, however, Hewitt decried the fact that President George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers didn't get a vote on the Senate floor, and he argued that when "conservative pundits and activists" stopped her nomination, they weakened the ability of Republicans to argue against future Democratic nominees. From the February 14, 2016, column:
Lame duck presidents don't get to make successful nominations for lifetime appointments in an election year. Not in 2016. Not for the past 80 years.
It is that simple. And it doesn't matter who the president nominates — even if lightning struck and he nominated an originalist in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
President Obama certainly has the authority to nominate a replacement for Scalia.
But the Senate Republicans are under no obligation to hold a hearing much less a vote on that nominee. The decision to deep freeze a nominee is a constitutional one, and a political decision, but it isn't a difficult one. And to make it crystal clear, it isn't about an individual but the institution of the court. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that there would be no confirmations this year even before President Obama declared he'd make a nomination anyway. [The Washington Examiner, 2/14/16; Media Matters, 3/14/16]
Hewitt: Republican presidential candidates should “commit to actually building a fence” on the southern border. Appearing on Fox News’ Hannity, Hewitt said 2016 Republican presidential candidates should “commit to actually building a fence” on the U.S. southern border, adding that he wants “to build a fence on the southern border that’s at least half of the 2,000 miles long.” From the August 4, 2015, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): [Republicans] do promise 700 miles of fence. I think they built 30 miles by the time all was said and done. They make that promise. Even in the last election, we were told they’d stop executive amnesty. They don’t do it, Hugh. Why? Why do they say they’ll do it and never get it done?
HUGH HEWITT: They are afraid of building the fence. And that’s where I think Donald Trump had scored, is when he talked about the wall, the fence. And I think this is where I agree with Ann. I’m a big regularization person -- let the people who are here stay. But I want to build a fence on the Southern border that’s at least half of the 2,000 miles long.
When Donald Trump started talking about a wall, that’s when people started to listen to him. I think the other Republicans, whether they’re on the far-edge of that stage or in the middle of it, ought to bring that up and commit to actually building a fence. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/4/15]
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- LGBTQ, Religion, Climate Change, The Judiciary, Immigration, Media Structures & Regulations, National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq, Reproductive Rights
- MSNBC, Salem Radio Network
- Hugh Hewitt, Donald Trump, Alliance Defending Freedom
- Hugh Hewitt Show