Hugh Hewitt came out west from the Reagan White House to oversee construction of the Richard Nixon Library and, later, represent The Irvine Co. and other coastal developers in court as they sought to build whatever they desired on their land, “environmental extremism” like the Endangered Species Act (that Nixon demanded from Congress and signed in 1973) be damned. Hugh’s hobby in those days was writing local commentary that criticized the SoCal media for being too biased and left leaning. An early outlet for Hugh’s prose was the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, where this little Sandanista happened to be toiling at the time. One afternoon, editor and FOH (Friend of Hugh) Bill Lobdell informed that Hewitt was demanding we not change one word of his precious columns, for The Great One feared our institutionalized socialism might pollute his pieces without us even realizing it. We all shared hearty guffaws at the prospect of misspellings, broken syntax and bastardized grammar slipping through unwashed to the unwashed masses.
Hewitt magnificently parlayed his MSM-shaming sideline into steady appearances on L.A. Times' op-ed pages, which got him on camera as the “from the Right” host on KCET’s Life N Times and on microphone as the mouthpiece for his own nationally syndicated radio show, which now boasts 2 million listeners. Several fellow, similarly jealous newshounds have wallowed in the irony of Hewitt becoming a key player in the very industry he mocked, as his byline has appeared freshly inked by the most establishment presses of all, those of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, his influence has been the subject of a profile in The New Yorker penned by the dean of Columbia University School of Journalism and his insta-analysis has been on view as executive editor of Townhall.com and a daily blogger at HughHewitt.com. And he still has time to share his theocon world view in bestselling books, serve as a Chapman University Law School professor, show up in court occasionally as a hired gun and be an all-around good chum of a father to the brood he's raised in Irvine.
Hewitt’s readers, viewers and listeners can rest assured that ol' Hughcifer, as we so lovingly refer to him, will always find time amid his busy schedule to editorially smite fellow media mavericks who allow their biases to shade their work to the point of unfairness and inaccuracy.
That is, he will if that fellow media maverick is not Hugh Hewitt.
Case in point: On Monday, Hewitt posted on his blog “The Descent of the Left and the MSM,”
in which he chastises the mainstream media for trafficking “in wretched rumor about Sarah Palin and her family,” the wretched rumor being confirmed by the GOP veep nominee that her unmarried, 17-year-old daughter Bristol is preggers.
Hugh raises a valid point about a double standard: some in the media and nutty fringe did not extend the same sensitivity to Palin’s family as it had just done to philandering Democrat John Edwards’ family, although that does raise the question of whether some in the media and nutty fringe exercised the same care with the Edwardses as they are with the Palins. Hewitt goes on to applaud the Palins for their candor and transparency, and he includes their statement to the press welcoming Bristol’s future blessing.
But, later, Hewitt updated the post with an unsigned e-mail he received that “is very representative of what I expect the reaction to this announcement will be from all decent people of good will.”
There couldn’t be a clearer difference between conservatives and liberals than this one…
“If my daughter makes a mistake, I don’t want her punished with a baby”
“As [our daughter] faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.”
(also… “Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family.”)
When I, myself, became pregnant in college, my soon-to-be mother in law (a hard-core liberal Democrat who had openly encouraged me to have un-married sex with her son) expressed her “disappointment” in both of us – and immediately pushed for an abortion. My own mother (a sex-before-marriage-is-sin Catholic) immediately comforted me, affirmed her love for me and said, “There’s always room in our family for another baby.” My husband and I have been JOYFULLY married 21 years and have 4 amazing kids…. What an beautiful gift of love my mother gave me that day!
Babies … Punishment vs. Love. I think I’ll take love.
Funny thing about that letter: it is built around a lie that Hewitt has been spreading despite being called on it five months ago.
On his March 31 radio broadcast, Hewitt falsely claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had “gotten a question or into a debate about abortion rights for minors” when Obama said at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania, “If they [Obama's two daughters] make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16.”
That same afternoon, Hewitt posted this on his blog:
Monday, March 31, 2008
“I don't want them punished with a baby.”
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 4:48 PM
That's what Barack Obama said this weekend. Full quote:
“Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information.”
Not the sort of answer that will win over Pennsylvania Catholics.
That post generated 136 comments.
“For all you liberal number crunchers out there, since the start of the Iraq War, 6,901,166 babies have been murdered, right here in the USA, not much punishin’ go in [sic] on out there, is there Hussein?” wrote cottoneyed.
“Really good logic there on Obama's part. That will energize the pro-abort Left, like nothing else. Dreaming of that vaccum [sic] cleaner coming after the little “problem”! Yes, indeed nothing gets them excited, like aborting little black babies…,” wrote SEEHAWK.
“This is just one more incident where Obama goes off the teleprompter and starts speaking for himself. Whatever your stand on abortion, what does his choice of words say about his world view?” asked K.G. “… Obama is publicly endorsing the killing of his own grandchildren. Strikes me as pretty cold. Or very young. His immaturity is showing again. Obama! There are people who would want your grandchildren, even if you don't. Barack's pro-choice. We get that. But what a political blunder to make his young daughters part of the discussion. Gonna rue the day, dude.”
You don't find too many comments like the next one under Hewitt's post, but it gets at the truth about Obama's statement:
“I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information.” The rightwing radicals like Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh never miss a chance to take Obama and his wife's words out of context. The man was saying he wants his daughters to have the information that will prevent them from becoming pregnant as teens or to acquire STDs. Obama is the product of a teen mother. The man knows what he is talking about. Give him a break, for crying out loud!” wrote impeachbush.
It turns out Obama's statement was culled from CNN's March 29 airing of Ballot Bowl '08, which cut back and forth into live speeches being delivered in Pennsylvania by Obama, Edwards and Hillary Clinton. What follows is the official transcript from the “punishment” portion of the proceedings:
MARY SNOW: Welcome back to CNN's edition of BALLOT BOWL. This is a chance for you to hear directly from the candidates. I'm Mary Snow in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where Senator Barack Obama is holding a town hall meeting right now, taking questions from the audience. Let's go to straight to Senator Barack Obama. He just was asked a question about how his administration, if he's elected, would deal with the issue of HIV and AIDS and also sexually transmitted diseases with young girls. Here's Senator Barack Obama.
OBAMA: — or we give them really expensive surgery and we don't spend money on the front end keeping people healthy in the first place. So when it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include — which should include abstinence education and teaching the children — teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include — it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals.
But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16. You know, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information. You still want to teach them the morals and the values to make good decisions. That will be important, number one. Then we're still going to have to provide better treatment for those who do have — who do contract HIV/AIDS because it's no longer a death sentence, if, in fact, you get the proper cocktails. It's expensive. That's why we want to prevent as much as possible.
No matter how many times one reads the transcripts — even in Hewitt's false light — no where is the word abortion used or implied. That fact drew a stunning rebuke on April 1 from Media Matters. It's bad enough that Hewitt continues to keep the post up uncorrected on the site he edits. But to allow the lie to keep spreading with the new email regarding his Palin post just shows that Hugh Hewitt certainly does not practice what he preaches.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.