The former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic nominee for the presidency, Hillary Rodham Clinton, did something that frankly I, being a producer in conservative talk radio for 22 years, never thought would happen – consent to a long-form interview with a conservative host. She called in to the Hugh Hewitt Show for a pre-scheduled 30 minute interview with Hugh. After 32 minutes, Hugh admitted he had kept her over their allotted time and began to wrap up. Saying that she was rather enjoying herself and blowing off the time limit stops, Secretary Clinton offered to continue, and the interview ran to 45 minutes. You can hear the whole interview on the Salem Radio Network, or at Hugh’s website here. You can also read the transcript, which I’m fairly confident will be dissected for a long time to come.
There will be lots of comments about the interview, both what Secretary Clinton had to say and the way in which Hugh conducted it. And all comment is fair in love, war, and talk radio. For the record, however, there was one caveat to the interview, which was the interview was to be about her book, What Happened. That’s exactly what the interview was about. Second, there inevitably will be reactions from people who criticize Hugh because he didn’t take the opportunity with Secretary Clinton and turn it into the public shaming of 25 years of her alleged wrongdoing. I get it. I’m a lifetime charter member of the anti-Hillary club. As Hugh has said for virtually his entire career, this is an interview, not a debate.
What one will find in this interview are all sorts of nuggets that will be deemed very interesting to not only people on the right, but people on the left as well. Here’s just an example. At one point in the interview, Secretary Clinton brought up the events in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Hugh took the opportunity to ask her one question that’s always bugged him about the sequence of events, which is why she left the State Department relatively early, if at all, when the crisis was still unfolding and went home. Here’s the transcript of that exchange:
HH: I agree with that. On Benghazi, I have one question. On Page 230, you write, “The Republicans swung at me and missed at the 11 hour long Benghazi hearing.” That’s true, by the way, I absolutely 100% agree. My question is do you regret leaving the State Department that night?
HRC: Oh, you know, I was there until 9, 10:00. We had done a number of what are called SVTC’s, you know, satellite conferences. I had talked on the phone. I had talked over satellite with our team in Libya. I had talked with members of our government, Defense and Intel and others, obviously the White House. And you know, we knew that our goal was to find all of our people and get them out of there, and that was ongoing. And so you know, I went home for a few hours of sleep. I talked to the President, bringing him totally up to date, and then obviously, you know, headed back early the next morning.
HH: But do you regret, do you wish you had stayed there all night? Do you think it would have been different had you stayed there?
HRC: I doubt it, Hugh. I doubt it, because that was never the principal charge that the Republicans and others made against me, and those in the administration. So I don’t think that silenced the critics, because there seem to be a calculation that this was an issue that they could make political.
So to paraphrase, Hugh was basically asking her if she thought leaving early was a mistake. Would staying put and showing leadership have made a difference to get our personnel out of there? Could her continued presence have perhaps gotten assets in place faster to save lives? Her first response was that she had been in meetings and calls, and had briefed the President, and then went home to get some sleep. The crisis was still unfolding, mind you, but she seemed to believe everything was in control. Hugh pushed back, and her answer, to me, at least, is astounding. Her second answer is that staying at State that night wouldn’t have made a difference politically to the eventual Republican criticism of her. I couldn’t even imagine conjuring up a response like that.
If I had people in my charge that were under attack by an unknown entity, didn’t know where all our people were, had others bugging out, and the scramble to get assets there to rescue and defend weren’t yet worked out, I probably wouldn’t have gone home. That’s just me. If I were asked about it, though, my first thought reflecting on my choice wouldn’t be the political ramifications on me. It would be whether my decision to stay or go home might have changed the outcome of the lives of the four Americans who lost their lives that night.
As I said, there are lots of exchanges that will raise eyebrows in the days and weeks to come, I’m sure. But I do have to give her credit. She showed up and took the questions. Let’s see what people have to say when they listen or read the transcript.