This NewsBuster is a paid subscriber and regular listener to Hugh Hewitt's podcasts, and believes that Hugh is the ablest conservative interviewer on radio. So it was surprising to see him serve as such a loyal CNN soldier on today's Morning Joe.
Hewitt, a member of the CNN panel at Wednesday's GOP debate, refused to complain about the paltry opportunities he was given to question the candidates. And defending the fact that Donald Trump had been given twice Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee's airtime, Hewitt said that while "unfortunate," Jake Tapper had done a "marvelous" job of allocating time. That was too much for Mika Brzezinski, who bluntly told Hewitt: "I guess you're probably uncomfortable being honest about this." Mika's skepticism is on vivid display in the screengrab.
It might be understandable that Hewitt was reluctant to bite the hand that made him one of the few conservatives ever to make it onto an MSM debate panel. But without backstabbing CNN, could Hugh have been more candid about the debate's shortcomings?
Note: CNBC, a sister network of MSNBC, will host a GOP debate on October 28th. We'll be interested to see if Mika is as frank about any flaws by CNBC as she is about competitor CNN.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: We got to talk to you, Hugh. Willie Geist and I have a real issue with CNN. And the issue is that they kept you locked in the plane for most of the night and they gave you two questions.
MIKA BRZEZINSKIN: Were you in first class at least?
JOE: We're seious. We do have problems with the format and we're wondering why you weren't allowed to speak more and why the type of policy that you always ask weren't not front and center of that debate? Let me put you on the hot seat like you always put me on the hot seat [Joe is a regular guest on Hewitt's radio show.]
HUGH HEWITT: I'm pushing back because I thought the audience speaks for itself. 23 million people for three hours and I got the questions that were most important to me. I got to ask about Syria. I got to ask about the burden of the Bush name. I got to bring up the national security stuff I wanted to, but I'll tell you this, with 11 people on the stage, we went through the rundown for a couple of days. I'm very comfortable with the fact that you need a quarterback. I was a wide receiver, so was Dana, the ball came to us a few times, but I've told all my listeners and all my followers on Twitter don't be upset.
. . .
JOE: You know, Hugh, I know like me, I know you like guys like Scott Walker, are curious about Marco Rubio. I actually -- when Scott Walker came out with his first answers, okay, wait a second, this is Scott on his toes. This is the Scott Walker I like and then I didn't hear from him again for like five hours, until the press conference afterwards.
MIKA: Has does it happen in three hours?
JOE: How do we manage these things better so somebody like Scott Walker isn't standing up there for three hours and getting two questions? And I thought and I'm sure you agree with me, Mike Huckabee's answer on Iran was fantastic. I would like to hear more of that.
[cut to chart showing Trump had more than twice Huckabee's and Walker's airtime.]
HEWITT: Well look, we had 19 minutes for Donald Trump, nine minutes for Scott Walker. That's unfortunate . . . With 11 or 10 people on the stage, it's very difficult for someone like Jake Tapper, who did a marvelous job quarterbacking this thing, to allocate time . . . He's talking to the booth as you guys have to do.
MIKA: I don't think there was an effort [?] for that.
HEWITT: So I think it's almost impossible to deliver something -- what's that, Mika?
MIKA: You know, I mean, I don't, I guess you're probably uncomfortable being honest about this.
HEWITT: No, no: I'm very honest about it. I sat in that green room for two weeks--two days--and went over all those question sets. And they kept coming back to me and I said I would move me up in the A block and I took one question per block as did Dana. But when you've got 11 people, it's a football field. You never see the guard or the tackle. You gotta make sure that the 11 candidates get as much time and by the way if the panelists had talked more, those numbers for the candidates that you're bewailing would be even smaller.