Salem Media Group (NASDAQ: SALM), announced today that it will team up with CNN as the exclusive radio outlet to broadcast three GOP presidential primary debates, sanctioned by the Republican National Committee....Pierce offers a prediction about this debate:
The first of the three debates will take place September 16th at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Salem's nationally syndicated radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt will join in the Q&A of this debate. Hewitt is a 25-year veteran of radio and broadcast journalism.
Hewitt will also broadcast special editions of his program pre- and post-debate. At the conclusion of the debate, candidates will be invited to join Hewitt to talk candidly about the event and the pressing issues facing the nation....
... it will be moderated by a guy who defended Bill O'Reilly by red-baiting a reporter. This indicates to me that the entire process will take place within the bubble of American conservatism. (Low bridge, Jebbie!) That means we're even money to have an "I Paid For This Microphone, Mr. Green" moment when one of the aspirants feels ill-used by the new rules. Whether all this serves the ultimate nominee well remains to be seen. But it promises to be a show.Yes, maybe. Maybe it's going to be like a staged reading of a Breitbart comments section.
Or maybe not. Hewitt's a seasoned operative, and he's just as capable of toning it down if, y'know, the right people want him to do that. Remember, Hewitt is the same guy who tried to grease the skids for Mitt Romney starting in 2006, the year he published a book (written with Romney's cooperation) titled A Mormon in the White House? As Washington Monthly's Elon Green noted in the spring of 2012, the book wasn't especially hard-hitting:
A Mormon in the White House? [is] a work that, even by the standards of Regnery Publishing, is hardly probing. Per Regnery, Hewitt’s “provocative investigation” uncovered “[t]he key weaknesses that make McCain, Giuliani, and Jeb Bush each unelectable -- and that Mitt Romney doesn’t share”; “How Romney battled against his state’s highest court and its overwhelmingly Democratic legislature on behalf of traditional marriage”; and “How Romney saved the Salt Lake City Olympic Games under the very real fear of another terrorist attack after 9/11.”By the 2012 primary season, Hewitt, ostensibly a doctrinaire conservative, was,in Green's words, "Romney's special pleader." His interview questions, as Green notes, were a tad less pugnacious than the ones he asked David Corn yesterday:
Romney has rewarded Hewitt with no less than four interviews this year alone, on January 26, February 7, February 23 and March 8. Perhaps these questions explain Romney’s largesse:In the upcoming debate, we might see the amped-up Hewitt we saw in the Corn interview -- or, as in these Romney interviews, he might blow kisses.
“Tonight, Colorado and Minnesota. Do you expect to extend your winning streak in either or both places?”And my favorite:
“Do you think that these gas prices, Governor Romney, are going to be a major issue through the fall? Or will they be, through the manipulation of the Strategic Oil Reserve, or something else, brought down in time to defuse the issue for the President?”
“But generally speaking, did these debates work to alert the country to the seriousness of the problems we are facing? Or did they trivialize these problems?”
“Now Governor, more generally, you ran the Olympics. You took it over when it was in a state of chaos. And you had a thousand different things going on. I’ve told people about the number of events and countries and athletes. Is running a campaign more or less complicated than running the Olympics?”
“Will you passionately fight for the military if you’re the nominee?”
“Last question, Governor, quick, there’s a picture over at Hughhewitt.com of you and Mrs. Romney driving four of your grandchildren in a convertible. Is that a ‘63 Nash Rambler?”
Chances are we'll get both from Hewitt -- candidates the Republican National Committee and fat-cat donors would like to see disappear will get rough stuff, while Hewitt strokes the favored candidate or candidates. (Jeb? Walker? Rubio?)
Either way, the whole enterprise is going to be phony, and will bear about as much resemblance to a news event as right-wing media outlets bear to actual news organizations.