Good lord. Surely the Republican imperative to kiss Trump’s ass doesn’t now extend to whitewashing North Korea’s Stalin just because POTUS is excited to meet him next month.

That’s a paraphrase of Pete Hegseth’s point in the clip below, not a direct quote, but it’s close enough.

It was a major, days-long outrage at Fox, and rightly so, when other American media outlets whitewashed Kim’s sister for scowling at Mike Pence at the Winter Olympics. A month later, Trump accepted Kim’s invite to meet. Now suddenly it’s safe to recognize the essential humanity of a man who oversees a gulag-state of 25 million people. “Imagine if he worked for NBC and said this during the Olympics,” a Twitter pal said of Hegseth after watching the clip. Imagine if he worked for CNN!

He’s usually likable in his Fox hits and not prone to rhetoric like this. Maybe that’s a “Trump effect” at work (Hegseth, like Hannity, is another POTUS phone buddy and was considered for VA chief) or maybe his point just came out garbled, as will happen sometimes on live TV. Charitably, he’s saying that we know there’s *some* cultural common ground between Kim and the west, however superficial. He’s not so hostile to the west and its ideas that he refuses to watch Hollywood movies, for instance. Maybe that’s enough of a crack in the door psychologically to make better relations with the west appealing to him.

But, hoo boy. How you get from there to saying Kim “probably doesn’t love being the guy that has to murder his people all day long,” I don’t know. What does he mean, that Kim “has” to murder his people? What other historical monsters “had” to behave monstrously? The punchline is, this is coming just a week removed from Trump’s “animals” comment about MS-13, which many righties — Fox included, of course — defended Trump over. For a moment this morning on the network, it sounded like the nuclear-armed dictator of the world’s most Orwellian state, who’s threatened to incinerate American cities, was to be seen as somewhat more of a relatable human being than gang-bangers from El Salvador. If MS-13 wants Fox to respect their essential humanity, maybe they should try asking for a summit with Trump.