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MSNBC cancels conservative host Hugh Hewitt’s Saturday show

Meet the Press - Season 71
NBC News correspondent Katy Tur, left, and conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt appear on “Meet the Press” in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 26, 2017.
(William B. Plowman / NBC)

MSNBC has pulled the plug on conservative host Hugh Hewitt’s weekly program.

Hewitt, an attorney and right-leaning radio host based in Los Angeles, told viewers that his program this past Saturday was his last. He was given a half-hour slot on MSNBC in June 2017.

Hewitt said he will continue as a contributor for MSNBC, where he will be paid to appear on various programs. He will also continue to appear as a guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” His 8 a.m. time period will be added to anchor Alex Witt’s Saturday morning news program.

An MSNBC executive not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said the network is looking to have more live coverage on the weekends in the months before the midterm elections. Hewitt taped his program on Fridays.

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Hewitt’s program also was not a strong ratings performer, perhaps because viewers are accustomed to tuning into MSNBC to hear critical coverage of the Trump White House.

While MSNBC employs a number of Republican hosts and commentators such as Nicolle Wallace, Steve Schmidt and George Will, most of them have been harsh in their assessments of President Trump. Hewitt was the exception.

The executive said discussion of ending Hewitt’s program had begun before a conflict involving the host and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt arose.

Hewitt was rebuked by MSNBC bosses in May after Politico reported that his law firm brokered a meeting last year between the EPA and the lawyers for an Orange County water district grappling with the cleanup of a polluted aquifer. The contamination in the Orange County North Basin was targeted for “immediate and intense attention” by the agency following the meeting.

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Hewitt’s involvement was seen as a conflict as he has defended Pruitt on the air. Pruitt has been under investigation for numerous ethical lapses during his EPA tenure, something that Hewitt has dismissed as “nonsense scandals.”

stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


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