GROVE CITY – A former newspaper reporter visited Grove City College Wednesday.
But Brit Hume has come a long way from his early career in print media to his current status as a senior commentator on Fox News.
Hume, one of the most-watched televison journalists in America, participated in a roundtable discussion to mark Grove City College’s 13th annual Ronald Reagan Lecture. Dr. Paul Kengor, a GCC and best-selling author on multiple books about Reagan, moderated the discussion.
Grove City College President Paul McNulty, also participated in the discussion. McNulty, who was an attorney in the U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Deputy Attorney General, worked in the department during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, and during the investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
After a long career in television, including work as a White House correspondent for ABC News, Hume said journalism remains special to him.
“I was born to work as an investigative reporter,” he told a packed Crawford Hall auditorium at GCC.
Hume’s journalist career spans over 43 years with his first job working at a Connecticut newspaper.
“Over time I got better – at least I hope so,” Hume joked.
In 1996 he left ABC to join Fox News, then a cable news start-up. He serves the news organization as senior political analyst and is a regular panelist on Fox’s weekly program “Fox News Sunday.”
On Wednesday, Hume didn’t mince words in criticizing many in the profession.
“Journalists and liberals are certifiable,” he said.
In looking back at his career, Hume said after the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon, news reporting about presidents became increasingly adversarial.
Hume’s presentation included short video clips. A clip from last year, which showed CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a press conference with President Donald Trump, drew laughs from the audience.
Acosta repeatedly asked Trump about his decision to declare a national emergency on the U.S./Mexico border. Trump said he answered Acosta’s question and demanded that he surrender the microphone to other reporters, but the CNN journalist continued pressing.
Hume said Acosta’s follow-ups were a breach of professional protocol.
“You don’t argue with the president,” Hume said. “You ask the question and wait for an answer.”
The White House withdrew Acosta’s press credentials but restored them later after CNN filed a lawsuit against the administration.
“Every president deserves to be treated fairly,” Hume said. And then later added, “He’s under no obligation to answer any of our questions.”
Hume has an unusual, if not unique, perspective on White House politics, having covered the last five presidents.
His first campaign was George Bush’s successful 1988 run, described the 41st president as “a very nice man,” who lacked the charisma of his predecessor, Reagan.
That swiftly changed in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Hume particularly recalled the moment when Bush famously warned Iraq, “This will not stand.”
“He was a transformed man,” Hume said of Bush.
In Hume’s estimation, the Soviet Union’s demise on his watch was an important historical turning point not greatly appreciated today.
“A lot of young people don’t realize what the fall of communism meant,” he said.
When Clinton stepped into the oval office, Hume said he immediately saw the 42nd president’s magnetism.
“It was impossible not to like him,” he said of Clinton.
But when Clinton was impeached by the U.S. House on his testimony over an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinski, he lost some of that appeal, Hume said.
Hume credited George W. Bush for his response in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Fox, he said, didn’t fall into the trap of other media outlets that fixated on “Why do they hate us,” coverage of the devastating attack.
“Our coverage was straight,” he said.
Hume’s talk also covered the elephant in the U.S. political room — the impeachment investigation of Trump.
The investigation has centered on a whistleblower who filed a complaint stemming from a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. During that call, the whistleblower alleges, Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, now a Democratic candidate for president, and his son Hunter Biden.
Those in the news business often lack balance when reporting on events, particularly politics, Hume said, and provided some experience-gained advice for budding journalists.
“Don’t permit your views to enter (the story),” he said. “Recognize what your biases are and filter them out.”
Hume said he was extremely concerned about the current rabid political discourse, particularly about Trump, which has become brutal and bitter. He concluded that the news media has become biased in its coverage.
“It’s damaging. It leaves people without informational trust.”