Partisan political analysts have become an unfortunate staple of cable news coverage. Yet even with such low journalistic expectations, rightwing pundit Hugh Hewitt is particularly undeserving of this prominent platform.
Rightwing radio host Hugh Hewitt was on MSNBC Thursday morning and offered a preposterous commentary on the risk of violence from disappointed Trump supporters.
Host Craig Melvin mentioned a New York Times article about calls from Trump fans for “revolution” if Hillary Clinton wins the election. He followed that with clips of Trump supporters saying they would not accept that result, and that there would be “a hell of a lot of protests” and “civil unrest” from self-described “Second Amendment pros.”
Hewitt’s response was mind-boggling:
Well, at every rally from both candidates, you’re going to find the most extreme person, they’re gonna make the most colorful soundbite. I’ve talked to Donald Trump about five and a half hours on the air. I’ve never head him ever incite or encourage violence.
That Hewitt has never heard Trump’s repeated incitement — including suggestions that his opponent be assassinated — is absurd on its face. But it is not surprising, given Hewitt’s background.
Hewitt spent many years as legal counsel in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. He then carved out a long career in conservative media that has included defending anti-LGBT laws, opposing efforts to ban the Confederate flag, promoting the smear that Hillary Clinton is a murderer, comparing Obamacare to slavery, trivializing the murder of an abortion provider, joking about the destruction of the United States by terrorists under Obama, and participating in the deadly smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.
And this is the man the corporate political media have seen fit to reward with a seat at their table, a platform that he is now using to spread his unprincipled support for Trump and to help propagate smears of Clinton. And to excuse and cover up the very real threats of violence emanating from Trump’s base.
Corporate news organizations need to start thinking critically about the expense of harmful and useless content, and Hewitt is a good place to start. It is long past time for commentators of his ilk to be held to a more stringent journalistic standard.
He has nothing to offer besides being, essentially, a well-groomed but mendacious media troll, with a long track record of hateful statements and conduct, and he ought to have no place in our mainstream media.
(Alison R. Parker and Peter Daou contributed to this article.)