I first met Derek Hunter when he was helping a friend at Smith College organize a campus lecture by Ann Coulter. I was scheduling many of Coulter’s campus lectures at the time and the opportunity to speak at the feminist-infested Smith College was too good to pass up.
As readers of Hunter’s Townhall column know, he and Coulter have a similar penchant for tweaking liberals and entertaining conservatives while they do it. In addition to his columns at Townhall and New York Daily News, Hunter hosts an evening show, “1090 at Night” on Baltimore’s popular talk radio station, WBAL. He also hosts “The Big Show” every Saturday on Washington D.C.’s WMAL.
Hunter came to D.C. from Detroit in 2001, where he started at The Heritage Foundation and then later worked at Americans for Tax Reform. He also started hosting It’s First Friday, a monthly happy hour for free market-minded flacks. Notable past guests included Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, Christopher Hitchens, Grover Norquist, Jonah Goldberg, John Boehner, and Newt Gingrich. Rather than the typical speech or book signing event, special guests actually talk and mingle with the attendees.
In 2009, he helped Tucker Carlson launch The Daily Caller. I asked Carlson what it was like to have Hunter on board. He told me, “Derek's one of the funniest people I've ever met, fast as hell and really smart. Quite a handsome man, too.”
Each week the De Pasquale's Dozen asks political figures and free market-minded writers and entertainers to take a break from politics and talk about their pop culture obsessions.
1. What one thing would you do as President "just because you could"?
I’m going to assume you don’t mean this in a policy way, so I’ll say get a table at Minibar on a moment’s notice. Not exactly “find out what’s really going on at Area 51” (which I would also totally do), but an army of Secret Service guys seems like the only way to get into that place.
2. Tell me about your favorite teacher and how he or she influenced your life.
Throughout elementary school I was a horrible student. Were we in the “just give him a pill” age we are now, I’m sure I would’ve been diagnosed with ADHD. As it was, I was just disinterested and frustrated. Lots of Ds in citizenship later, a standardized test we took before junior high landed me in “basic” classes there, meaning below average. It was soon discovered that I wasn’t “basic,” but I was bored and had dyslexia. I was soon moved to “normal” then to “advanced” classes, except in English (ironically). That didn’t mean I was a good student. I wasn’t. Then one day my geometry teacher, Mr. Gurbach, showed us our grades before the report card came out and I got a C+, 2 points away from a B- because I hadn’t turned in the last homework assignment. After failing to talk my way into 2 points, I asked him what he thought if I told him I was going to get an A the next card marking. He said, and I’ll never forget this, “I don’t think you can.” Well, I did, and from there on out (I had him for 3 years of math). He made me discover my biggest motivator – spite. It sounds horrible to put it that way, but being told I couldn’t do something is the surest way to make sure I do it, not matter how long it takes or how hard it is. Or at least give it one hell of a try.
3. If you could be paid to do anything besides your current job, what would it be?
Being awesome. Short of that, playing professional hockey. I grew up in Detroit, Hockeytown, and played till I couldn’t anymore. I was alright, not great (my brother was great). But I still would love to hoist the Stanley Cup over my head and drink some victory juice out of it just once. I would’ve preferred it to have been as part of team, on the ice in front of a cheering crowd, but I’d take a sip of Champaign from and hoist that beauty anywhere.
4. Tell me about a public or private moment when you thought to yourself, "This is what Elvis felt like every day.”
I’ve never eaten fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches or shot a TV, so I don’t know how much like Elvis I’ve ever felt. There have been times people I didn’t know came up to me and said they really liked something I’d written or said, which is awkward. I write “stream of consciousness” and don’t read it, it’s pretty much written in my head before I start typing, then I send it off and kind of forget about it. I have a great memory for everything except names and things I write or say, so I generally don’t know what they’re talking about. But it usually sounds like something I would say. The same goes for my shows. I decide what I’m going to talk about around 15 minutes before it starts but the order is determined when I’m standing in front of the microphone and the “On Air” light turns on. Its laziness, I know, but I look at every waking minute at prep, so commercial breaks are as good a time as any to pick the topics.
5. What's your current “guilty pleasure” non-news television show?
I assume you want something embarrassing, to which I would have answered Gossip Girl, but that show has ended, so… I will confess to watching 90210 for reasons of nostalgia, but it’s really because I first looked at it for the hot chicks and stayed with it because I got addicted. Also, Don’t Trust the B--- in Apartment 23 is awesome. DVR is set for both of those, sadly.
6. What’s the best present you ever received as a child?
Legos. I still have them, in a bucket in my closet. They were the best toy ever (with Star Wars toys a close second) and I was pretty damn good at building things with them.
7. What’s the best present you ever gave?
I gave my girlfriend a kitten named Ringo. She was a dog person, I am a cat person. She now realizes I was right. You can’t go away for the weekend with a dog. Hell, you can’t even go out to dinner if you haven’t been home in a while with a dog. I like dogs, grew up with them, so I’ll wait till I have a big yard to get a big dog (little dogs are for annoying people on planes), but I’ll still be a cat person.
8. What advice do you remember your mother or father giving you? Did you take it?
There isn't much offering of advice, at least not that I remember, but they did set a great example. Neither graduated high school, but they both worked incredibly hard. My father always had 2 jobs, driving a forklift for General Motors 5 days per week and working the concession stand at the local softball fields 3 nights in the summers and driving the Zamboni at the ice rink on the weekends in winter. My mother lost her right leg above the knee when I was 9, but aside from the crutches and the phantom pain, you’d never know it. She didn’t work (I was the youngest of 5, so there were lots of kids to take care of), but she worked around the house and took care of everything. So their advice was to set an example I aspire to be worthy of inheriting.
9. Who would be on the perfect "Red Eye" panel?
Bill (since he’s always there), Adam Carolla, me and Tucker Carlson (he’s damn funny and I can make him laugh easily) in the “leg chair.”
10. What books are on your reading list?
I just finished “Tough Sh*t” by Kevin Smith (always been a fan) and tend to mainly read biographies. I read news all the time and have a vivid enough imagination that I don’t need to read fiction. But dyslexia means I usually read slowly, even though I can type about 100 per minute.
11. What would you like tomorrow's headline to say?
President Obama resigns, admits he had no idea what he was doing. Apologizes.
12. Tell me about the moment you decided to be more vocal about your political beliefs.
I’ve never been silent or shy about them. I’d rather be hated for who I am than liked for who I’m not. I’ve been listening to talk radio and watching news since I was 12 and conservatism always made sense. I’d annoy a lot of my parent’s friends when I was a kid (they were nearly all union members) with talk of politics, but earning your own way always made sense to me. So I was vocal about my politics long before anyone was listening, which makes what I get paid to do now that much cooler.