Zach Carter, the Huffington Post’s “senior political economy reporter,” recently joined radio host Hugh Hewitt for a rather embarrassing on-air interview in which Hewitt revealed that Carter’s outspoken views on the Iraq War, Dick Cheney, and more were somewhat lacking for historical context. (Audio here, via Hewitt’s website.)
Carter had publicly blasted Cheney for remarks the former vice president had made on Hewitt’s show last week about Iraq and the threat of terrorism, arguing that the vice president hadn’t offered adequate explanations for the 2003 invasion.
Carter admitted in the segment that he hasn’t read the memoirs of Cheney, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or Hillary Clinton, noting that he tries to avoid books written by politicians “as a matter of principle.”
In Hewitt’s interview with Cheney, Carter had argued, Cheney said that the administration was dealing with plans in the event of a nuclear collapse, and that the Iraq War was one of the things that they’d done to keep Americans safe from such a possibility.
“Now Zach, he actually said nothing remotely like that. I’ve gone over it,” Hewitt said. “You completely mischaracterized what the vice president said.”
Throughout the interview, Carter revealed some substantial gaps in his knowledge of the topic on which he’d criticized Cheney. Hewitt rattled off the titles of many books about Iraq and the Middle East that Carter had never read or heard of, including Bernard Lewis’s Crisis of Islam, Robin Wright’s Dreams and Shadows, and Thomas P. M. Barnett’s The Pentagon’s New Map.
“So how in the world do you presume to know the threats the United States faces, as opposed to, say the secretary of defense?” Hewitt asked.
When Hewitt asked about the implications of President Bill Clinton’s air strikes on Iraq in 1998, Carter said he didn’t know that had happened.
Cheney’s statements on Iraq, Hewitt explained to Carter, were based upon four years as secretary of defense, eight years as vice president, and time as White House chief of staff.
“In other words, he has lots of reading, lots of experience on which to assess risk,” he said. “You apparently read very little, but presume very much, take conventional wisdom for granted, and don’t know why Bill Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998.”
Hewitt also asked, unrelated to the main topic of the interview, a question he always asks young-journalist guests: whether the interviewee has heard of Alger Hiss. Carter had not, though he told Hewitt that if he’d been asked whether Hiss was guilty of being a Soviet spy, he’d have said yes.