Hugh Hewitt, the smart but smarmy, glib and dishonest right-wing radio talkster, used his latest Washington Post column to, as usual, weasel his way around all the holes in the facts and logic he uses to make the case that the convincing defeat of Donald Trump, and the Republican Party’s deep commitment to Trumpism going forward, in no way suggests any problems for the GOP’s future election prospects.
His latest WaPo column, published Saturday and headlined “The Republican Party isn’t in trouble,” is a classic example of Hewitt’s gift for intellectual dishonesty, which consists mostly of ignoring contrary evidence and arguments that are inconvenient to his own preferred conclusions. I consider this to be a key tool of intellectual dishonesty, which he once used against me years ago when I was a guest on his radio show, and on which he seems to regularly rely. It’s pretty easy to win an argument when the other side of the argument is ignored or censored.
In 2020, as you noticed, the Democrats won the presidency by a healthy, solid margin that some (but not I) have called a landslide, made a four-seat pickup in the Senate (which gave them a 50-50 tie (but actual virtual control because Vice President Kamala Harris is able to cast tie-breaking votes), and retained control (although by a smaller margin than previously) of the U.S. House.
I call your attention to the last parenthetical acknowledgement above. Democrats won the majority of 2020 House races. Republicans gained ground compared to 2018, but nonetheless lost the majority of House races and the majority of overall votes in House races combined.
If they could trade places, Republicans surely would, because they would now have a majority and could (and probably would) block anything President Biden tried to do. But, because of his selective perception/reader manipulation/dishonesty issues, Hewitt managed to get through the analysis without clearly acknowledging the important facts that Democrats won the majority of the House races and got more votes in all House races combined.
From an intellectual honesty standpoint, that’s a serious – and one suspects intentional – omission by Hewitt. You mention the fact that helps your argument that everything is heading the Republicans’ way, and omit the fact that gets in the way of your spin. That’s not what honest people do.
Then Hewitt predicts more gains for the House Republicans in 2022 by saying that: “Redistricting in the next two years will advantage the GOP.”
A lot of analysts and other self-appointed future-knowers agree with that, but the reason for it is that Republicans control several states in which they can use the decennial redistricting to gerrymander in their favor. Gerrymandering is universally understood to be an undemocratic, improper-but-not-illegal cheating-within-the-rules aspect of the U.S. system.
I could go into more annoying details of the ways that Hewitt cheats intellectual honesty to make his case. He often does. (I don’t listen to his radio show, but I often read his column.) He’s a master at the oily art of deceiving without literally lying. It’s the opposite of intellectual honesty, which I prize highly; it includes acknowledging contrary facts and arguments and dealing openly and factually with the weak spots in your own argument. It would involve, for example, writing, “Redistricting in the next two years will advantage the GOP because they are in a position to benefit from the next round of gerrymandering.”
But instead of belaboring that further, and in intellectual honesty interest of full disclosure, I’ll explain why I bear an old grudge against Hewitt on this intellectual honesty score.
Hewitt had me on his radio show years ago to talk about my coverage (in my Strib days) of former Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s Sixth District. Hewitt was a Bachmann admirer/defender. My coverage of her was very tough, although I would say not much tougher than she brought on herself.
In my long-ago interview with Hewitt, I defended, factually and honestly, my coverage of her. He defended Bachmann and pushed back on me. Fine.
But the interview didn’t air live. It was taped. And he (or his minions) edited it, removing every true (I’m sure) and smart (I hope) thing I had said in defense of my Bachmann coverage.
As a deal by itself, it’s no biggie. Bachmann is long gone from relevance, having flamed out after a brief and utterly unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Republican presidential candidacy, which I also covered, followed by one last term in Congress ending in 2014.
Hewitt, if memory serves, didn’t support Bachmann’s presidential bid, nor, so far I know, does he revisit his days as her defender against my depredations (or in general). That’s how he rolls.
I didn’t appreciate it then, I don’t appreciate it now, and, while I hope I won’t do it too often, I’ll reserve my right to occasionally monitor and report to MinnPost readers on his candor, intellectual honesty or lack of same.