Insight when it matters: a conversation with Brit Hume
CM: Do you think Joe Biden can win the election if he refuses to participate in the debates?
Mr. Hume: It’s possible, but it would hurt his chances since it would tend to confirm what many already suspect, i.e., that he is senile. I think he is and there is a risk that debating might confirm the impression even more. But he has shown the ability to be sharp for periods of time, as in his final debate with Bernie Sanders. Whether he can hold up for three debates is an open question.
CM: If we do not have an announced victor on the night of November 4th, what do you think happens then?
Mr. Hume: It took 37 days for a winner to be decided in 2000. Ballot tallying could go on even longer this time and there would doubtless be protests, counter-protests, lawsuits and bitter accusations on both sides. The airwaves and columns would be full of dark suspicions about Trump refusing to yield power if he loses. Indeed, there already are. It would be a nightmare, reflecting the deep divisions in the country.
CM: The majority of the residents of these riot-torn “blue” cities are not involved in rioting, looting, murder and arson — yet we don't hear them speaking out against it. Why is this?
Mr. Hume: Polls show sharp public disapproval and we certainly hear those immediately affected by the violence complaining about it. I’m not sure many other residents are being asked for their opinions. But to the extent they are keeping quiet, I suspect they don’t want to become targets themselves and they lack confidence the authorities will protect them.
CM: What do you think is the single biggest danger our country faces today?
Mr. Hume: From outside, it’s the rise of China. From inside, it’s the depth of cultural and political division in the country. It’s the most poisonous atmosphere I’ve seen in 55 years in the news business. People have lost faith in major institutions, including government, the press and the universities. This is very dangerous.
CM: Win or lose this November — where does the Republican party go post-Trump?
Mr. Hume: Except principally for three issues, immigration, trade and federal debt, Trump has governed as a traditional conservative. Think of the issues where he’s been with them: taxes, regulation, judges, abortion, defense spending, guns, Israel. Most Republicans have come around to his view on immigration and trade. As for spending, they will probably have to return to a more hawkish view since there will be a day of reckoning when the bill for all this spending begins to come due. So the party will be about the same on the issues as before Trump, but less interventionist and more restrictive on immigration and trade. Their new coalition will demand that.
CM: What do you think may be the biggest structural or social change we see in America due to or accelerated by the pandemic?
Mr. Hume: Our media and our “experts” have done as bad a job on Covid-19 as they did on the 2016 election and the Russia collusion blind alley. I hope fervently this will cause an agonized reassessment of their ways. But it’s just a hope. Too many journalists and academics have tried to use their positions to influence politics. It has led them astray time and again, especially on the disastrous Covid-19 lockdowns that have done so much collateral damage.
CM: What do you think is the best thing conservatives who love their country can do to weather through and prosper in these strange times?
Mr. Hume: For one thing, they can stop supporting colleges and other institutions which are doing such a terrible job of educating students about the truth of American history. The fact that the New York Times’s wildly inaccurate 1619 Project has gained so much currency is only the latest manifestation of this. As for prospering, don’t give up on the U.S. economy and the free enterprise system. It is a force of nature and the greatest enemy poverty and want have ever faced.
CM: Some time ago, you wrote an Academy Award-nominated documentary that highlighted a number of environmental issues, such as the infamous Love Canal. Conservatives here in South Carolina’s Lowcountry have long been conservation voters, but what do you think national conservatives should be doing to defend the environment in a sensible manner?
Mr. Hume: Not to sound glib, but defend the environment in a sensible manner. Balance the measures designed to protect the environment against the need for a thriving economy. Prosperous nations can afford to do more to help the environment than poor ones. You only need look around the world to see that.
CM: In an age where local papers are withering away and TV news (to say nothing of online sources) are often just sound bites, how should the average person consume news media to be a well-informed citizen?
Mr. Hume: We have more access to more sources of information at lower cost than ever. The challenge is to curate what you watch and read to get a good perspective. Be skeptical. Consult a lot of sources, not just those who you find ideologically agreeable. It takes work, but the opportunity is there to be a truly well-informed citizen.
CM: What book is on your nightstand right now?
Mr. Hume: I have the manuscript of a novel written by my daughter, Virginia Hume. She worked on it for years and never would let me read it. Now she has. I had no idea what to expect, but I am blown away by it. Of course I am biased but I believe it is a wonderful story and a great read. It’s a family saga set largely in a Maine coastal community. It’s called Haven Point and will be out next summer from St. Martin’s Press.
Brit Hume: a snapshot of ‘the best in the business’
Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for the Fox News Channel (FNC). As many viewers may recall, he acts as a regular panelist on Fox’s weekly public affairs program, “Fox News Sunday,” and contributes to all major political coverage.
Recently, from September 2016 until the presidential election, Hume stepped in as interim host of “On the Record.” He also previously anchored “Special Report” and led the program for more than 10 years, stepping down in December 2008. Under his leadership, “Special Report” was the highest rated political program on cable television. In this capacity, Hume also served as the Washington managing editor and was responsible for overseeing news content for the news firm’s Washington bureau.
Throughout his tenure with Fox News, Hume has secured numerous interviews with major newsmakers including: then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Before he joined Fox News in January 1997, Hume was with ABC News for 23 years, serving as chief White House correspondent from 1989 through 1996. In that role, he interviewed major political figures, including then President Bill Clinton. Hume joined ABC in 1973 as a consultant for the network’s documentary division and was named a Washington correspondent in 1976. He was later promoted to Capitol Hill correspondent and reported on Congress until 1988.
Earlier, Hume reported for United Press International, beginning his career as a newspaper reporter with The Hartford Times and The Baltimore Evening Sun.
He has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2003 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism from the National Press Foundation and a 1991 Emmy Award for his coverage of the Gulf War. The author of two books, Inside Story and Death and the Mines, Hume was named “the best in the business” by the American Journalism Review for his extensive news coverage of the White House.
A graduate of the University of Virginia, Hume resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife Kim Schiller Hume.