Donald Trump Bashes Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt After Awkward Foreign-Policy Interview

Donald Trump, GOP Debate - H 2015
AP Images

Donald Trump, GOP Debate - H 2015

Calling in to MSNBC's 'Morning Joe,' Trump called Hugh Hewitt a "third-rate radio announcer" after the host asked the Republican frontrunner what he considered to be a series of "gotcha" questions in an interview on Thursday.

Donald Trump was back on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Friday, and though he was full of good will — expressing multiple times how he "likes and respects" many of his fellow contenders for the Republican nomination — he had no love for conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who will co-moderate the next Republican presidential debate on CNN on Sept. 16.

Thursday on The Hugh Hewitt Show, Hewitt played political trivia with Trump, catching the Republican frontrunner in a web of confusion about the Kurds and the Quds and exposing his unfamiliarity with the names of political heavy-hitters in the Middle East like Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"Do you know the players without a scorecard, yet, Donald Trump?" Hewitt asked.

Trump conceded that he didn't, but for good reason. "By the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed, they’ll be all gone," he told the host.

On Morning Joe, Trump came back swinging at Hewitt, calling him a "third-rate radio announcer" and accusing the host of trying to trap him with details — "every question was like 'gotcha, gotcha, gotcha' and 'Do I know this one and that one?' " Trump groused to Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Later in the interview, Brzezinski pressed Trump about Ben Carson, who some Iowa polls have closing in on the frontrunner. "What do you want Republicans to know about why you would be a better president than Ben Carson?" she asked.

"Well, I'm a much better counterpunch," Trump told her. "I'm really hoping for Ben to really hit me at some point because I love to counterpunch. He's been very nice to me. We get along very well, as I do with most of the other people up onstage. … But I do have certain things to say, but I'm not going to be saying them for a little while. Let's see what happens."

Despite some other unflattering assessments by Trump — Jeb Bush? "Low energy." The negotiators of the Iran Deal? "Incompetent." The deal itself? "Horrible." — all in all, the 20-minute-plus interview revealed a kinder, gentler Trump, with panelist David Ignacio of the Washington Post remarking in conclusion: "We heard the nicest, calmest version of Donald Trump we've ever heard before."

On Friday, Hewitt appeared on CNN to respond to Trump's takedown, saying that he didn't ask gotcha questions because he "hates gotcha questions."

He then went on to compliment Trump on his overall performance during the 20-minute interview, saying that Trump "did very well throughout most of that interview, including tricky questions about China and Israel."

"But to come back with 'third-rate announcer,' that's my Trump tattoo. You know, you earn that in this business. And I'm always interested in critiques; I take them under advisement."

Hewitt defended the specific questions he posed to Trump, arguing "I don't think it's a gotcha question to ask about the forces surrounding Israel, and that's where the interview was going and where it actually got to."

As to whether it was fair to ask Trump about the Quds General Qasem Suleimani, Hewitt pointed out that the name had actually come up in the first Republican debate and seemed fair game.

"I'm not trying to catch anyone out on names," Hewitt insisted. "I get confused on the names. Carly Fiorina came on and said she got confused on the names."

Watch Hewitt's appearance on CNN below.

Sept. 4, 12:55 p.m. Updated with Hewitt's response.