Talk radio host Hugh Hewitt has said in the wake of last week's controversial foreign policy interview with Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump that "I deplore 'gotcha questions,'" yet he's repeatedly defended asking them in the past and even says on his website that there's no such thing as a "gotcha question."
Trump slammed Hewitt — who was picked by the Republican National Committee to join CNN's Jake Tapper as a questioner on the network's Sept. 16 GOP presidential debate — as a "third-rate announcer" for asking him questions about specific power players in the Middle East.
"After being chided by Donald Trump for asking 'gotcha questions' – and I deplore 'gotcha questions' – I asked Carly Fiorina to join me and, of course without revealing the questions to her, walked through the same question set for her as I did for Donald Trump," Hewitt says in a transcript of his Sept. 3 interview with Fiorina
, another GOP presidential hopeful.
But elsewhere on his site, in a post dated Feb. 26, Hewitt gives his rules for interview subjects, titled "Answer the Questions. All of Them. Often."
"There are no 'gotcha questions' even if there are 'gotcha answers.' […] Everyone entering into the interview has to be prepared to answer – or decline to answer – every question, and to do so with grace and humor. […] Yes, there are difficult questions and lines of inquiry, but that’s what thinking and rehearsing are for [….] But there aren’t any questions that are off-limits, and if a question is inappropriate, the interviewee just ought to declare 'That’s an inappropriate question designed to injure me and I respectfully decline to answer it.'"
Similarly, in an April 27 post on his website titled "Meet the candidates for 2016,"
Hewitt stated that "there are no 'gotcha questions' when it comes to issues of same-sex marriage and the integration of sexual-orientation pluralism into American pluralism."
Hewitt this year has asked Republican candidates
Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, and Rick Perry whether they would attend a same-sex wedding, with Perry even saying in reply that "that's the gotcha question that the left tries to get."
In an interview with radio host Aaron Klein in March, Hewitt was asked about the type of questions he would ask GOP candidates in the second debate and said he would stay away from personal questions.
"I don't care what people think about evolution," Hewitt told Klein, BuzzFeed
reports. "I don’t care. I never cared. I don't care if they know how old the earth is and I just have never cared about personal religious beliefs."
The statement is the exact opposite of what Hewitt did in a November 2008 interview
with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is a candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016.
During the interview, Hewitt not only acknowledged that a question about a candidate's personal views on evolution was a "gotcha question," but said that is exactly the type of question a candidate must answer.
"It’s a gotcha question,'" Hewitt told Huckabee. "I know that, and the rest of the country knows that, and it’s sort of a test of a candidate as to whether or not they can handle gotcha questions."
Hewitt also often interjects his own religious affiliation into political discussions, but the affiliation is not always the same.
During the 2008 interview with Huckabee, Hewitt told the ordained minister that "I'm an Evangelical like you" before going on to discuss religious-themed questions such as Mitt Romney's Mormonism and evolution.
Yet Hewitt earlier this year declared himself an "orthodox Catholic" as he slammed Catholic League president Bill Donohue in a contentious interview on Jan. 8
, arguing about the slayings of Charlie Hebdo journalists by Muslim extremists outraged by the French magazine's mocking of the Prophet Muhammad.
But Hewitt is not just a self-described Evangelical and "orthodox Catholic." He stated in another political discussion that he is an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
On his June 30, 2014, radio show, Hewitt and Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer discussed the move by the PCUSA to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Hewitt apologized to the ambassador for the church's action:
"Mr. Ambassador, that actually leads me to an apology I have to make. I am actually an elder in the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. I’m not currently a ruling elder. I served as an elder twice, and once an elder, always an elder in the PCUSA. And my denomination did a horrible thing, a terrible thing last week, calling for the disinvestment in three American partners with the government of Israel, and then sending a 'open letter' of the PCUSA to our American Jewish interfaith partners that talked about the Israeli occupation in Palestine. So first, I do genuinely apologize."
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