Joe Kennedy III slams Hugh Hewitt’s ‘grotesque’ column on his grandfather, RFK

Representative Joseph Kennedy III.
Representative Joseph Kennedy III. AP/FR171538 AP via AP

Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, in a Washington Post op-ed Wednesday, called a Post op-ed by conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt invoking Robert F. Kennedy “grotesque.”

In a column titled “The party of Robert F. Kennedy is gone,” Hewitt had used RFK’s words following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. to condemn present-day Democrats who called President Trump a white supremacist in the wake of the El Paso massacre.

Hewitt’s column centered on calls by RFK for peace and compassion in response to King’s assassination, suggesting Democrats should have done the same rather than criticize Trump’s rhetoric, some of which was invoked by the shooter in El Paso as he targeted Latinos.


“The aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, mass murders, both rooted in the malaise and bigotry of our online age on both the fringe left and right, did not summon forth a Kennedy. Every single Democrat missed his or her opportunity to step up, as RFK did, and instead stepped in it,” Hewitt wrote in the Saturday op-ed.

Kennedy, the grandson of RFK, said Hewitt was manipulating his grandfather’s speech in order to “take a political shot against the Democratic Party,” calling it “grotesque.”

“Hewitt’s problem is those of us speaking out against President Trump’s assault on America’s character . . . rather than a president who is actively marginalizing and literally exiling those who don’t look or live or love or pray like him,” Kennedy wrote in the column.

Kennedy also said Hewitt “fundamentally misunderstands” the message his grandfather sent the night he shared the news of King’s assassination in Indianapolis.

“My grandfather’s words landed not because he was trying to speak for all Americans but because he was fighting for a nation where silenced Americans could speak for themselves. And the audience knew it,” Kennedy said. “Today, that fight pulses through the arteries of a people unafraid to call out Trump for his white supremacy, to fight for the neighbors the president exploits, excludes and leaves behind, and to take to the streets in defense of a country worth uniting for.”


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.