Fox News’ Major Pete Hegseth served in the United States Army, deploying multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, for which he was awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge and two Bronze Stars. For three years, Hegseth was the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, a veterans advocacy group.
He is currently the co-host of "Fox & Friends Weekend," as well as the author of "In the Arena: Good Citizens, a Great Republic, and How One Speech Can Reinvigorate America," which can be found on Amazon.
Hegseth recently spoke with The Daily Wire about his latest gig co-hosting the network’s New Year’s Eve special, as well as his upcoming show on FOX Nation.
DW: What are your feelings about co-hosting the New Year’s Eve coverage this year?
HEGSETH: I’m psyched – when I first heard about the opportunity, and especially to host with Kennedy, who I'm a huge fan of. She's a friend, and she is as good as they are in the business. It's going to be a ton of fun, which is what New Year's Eve should be. I feel like I'm probably going to have more fun even than the viewers who are at their own parties watching this, and that's what New Year's Eve is about.
Let's have fun, but let's also talk about some things that matter to remind ourselves where we are, and where we're going. We also have some surprise special guests for Fox viewers. You're not going to get a bunch of confetti necessarily; you’re going to get a lot of fun and some faces you're familiar with, and a great thing to be watching as you ring in the new year.
So, I'm really psyched about it, and we've got a great team of producers putting some fun stuff together. Kennedy even put me through a boot camp on New Year's Eve hosting since she's done it before and I haven't, so now I'm ready to go.
DW: You mentioned where we’re going in 2019? What do you mean by that?
HEGSETH: Well, I mean, who could predict what's going to happen next? I think the political season is going to start spiraling in its own hurricane of unpredictable power in 2019 with the Democratic debates and presidential candidates. And I think there's plenty to prognosticate about, and we'll all be wrong because no one could foresee the future.
But we'll also look backwards to the year that was. You know, the new cycle is so fast. I mean, I forget last week, let alone three months ago, and a little bit of a trip down memory lane is fun. So we're just going to have fun and I hope no one holds our totally terrible predictions against us.
DW: Politically speaking, what are you watching for going into 2019?
HEGSETH: I think the state of the economy is pretty important, especially if you're a fan of this president and what he's pursuing. The stock market is one thing, but economic indicators are going to be an important thing to look at, and whether or not the deregulation and the tax cuts and the business friendly climate persist, how the trade battle with China plays out, and not in the way the left wing did it. You know, the left-wingers are going to scream gloom and doom no matter what. So let's help bake that into the conversation.
But people who are actually being fair about this president and his policies, you know, where is the economy actually going? What are the effects of it? Because Americans vote for a lot of different reasons, a lot of different ways. But 2019 will set the table for the 2020 presidential election and I think, you know, electing a businessman, an outsider, who is going to disrupt things, there's an expectation the economy will come with it, which you have so far. I'm going to pay very close attention to that. I think it's going to matter to the narrative in 2019.
DW: Speaking of fair, what's your assessment of Trump’s first two years?
HEGSETH: It's almost fitting that the end of his two years includes a government shutdown and a showdown over the wall. The Democrats are who we know they were two years ago. They still don't even want to accept the election results. They're still clinging to Mueller, hoping he'll prove something that we all know is fantasy at this point, and they're leading with resistance. So, the 2020 presidential campaign on the Democratic side will be about who hates Trump more and who's more progressive than the others, right? That much we know.
But also, Trump does expose Republicans. I mean, the establishment status quo never wanted a wall, never believed in a wall, never cared about a wall, didn't fight for a wall. And that's why here, two years later, Trump is fighting almost alone to ensure that actual funding shows up to pay for the wall.
His supporters appreciate the fact that he's throwing down at this moment, knowing that once Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) takes over the house, forget about it, it ain't gonna happen. So, I think he has disrupted and he has sent the establishment and the elites into a spiral of their own making because he doesn't fit their mold.
Has he done everything perfectly? No, but no president does. Has he stuck to his word on the types of things he would do? I mean, the Paris climate accord, get rid of that; scrapping the Iran deal, moving the embassy, just crushing ISIS. Those are just foreign policy points that could be added to the domestic issues. Those who wanted a disruptor got what they asked for. And the more Washington panics, in my opinion, the closer he is to the target.
DW: Is there something that he could do prior to 2020 that would turn you off to his reelection?
HEGSETH: Yeah. I mean listen, of course Donald Trump's presidency is not just about the man. This is not hero worship. This is supporting someone who said he was going to do something on the campaign trail and then follows through on it. If he didn't follow through on what he said he was going to do, then I think a lot of his supporters would leave him. He is, instead, doing what he said he would do, and as a result, people are shocked that there is actually someone who would become a politician and actually keep his word.
That’s the thing. Why is he pulling out of Syria? Agree or disagree? I have my own conflicts about it. I don't know what's going to happen and the president will be responsible, in part, for what ensues after that. But he said on the campaign trail time and time again, "I don't want troops there. I don't want them there in perpetuity. Let's rebuild America," and that's what he did.
So I think the extent to which he sticks to his guns will be the extent to which his base stays where they are.
If you look at these Fox News presidential approval rating polls, he's in the high forties – and Rasmussen has him above. So he's as popular as any incumbent has been halfway through his term. You just have to shut off the noise of the hate-Trump media, which is everywhere.
DW: What’s one piece of advice you would give to the president?
HEGSETH: I would not fall into the trap of trying to pretend like my advice is going to change his perspective on things. You know what I would do? I would probably focus on social media and the power of that, and encourage him to lead a movement to other platforms or away from the monopolies of left-wingers that are controlling conservative speech.
He's the one guy that if he left twitter and went to a different platform, the whole media would be forced to go with him and follow him and talk about it and report on it. I don't know if that platform exists yet, but a powerful follow-through on his presidency might be, "Hey, I'm taking my megaphone somewhere else" because twitter and Facebook are silencing conservatives and they're shutting down speech because it's their business prerogative to do what they want.
But again, I think it's going to be one of the fights of our generation. Who controls these outlets and are they fair and are conservatives ever given a chance? So, that would be part of probably what I would share with him.
DW: When does your new FOX Nation show go up, and what are you planning to run with on that show?
HEGSETH: Right now, I'm working on a couple of documentaries. So the first one will air in early 2019, it's called "Ace of Spades," and it's about the hunt and capture Saddam Hussein. We all kind of take it for granted that Saddam was captured and tried for these crimes against his people. His sons were killed. But what's the real behind-the-scenes story of how it happened?
We all kind of remember the deck of cards, you know; Paul Bremer saying we got him. There's a lot that went into that. A lot of American lives lost hunting for him; a lot of confusion about how it all went down. So, I had the chance to talk to a lot of folks involved with those raids and the hunt for him, and we're going to try to just bring the raw, unvarnished version of what really happened.
So I'm really excited about it. Around Easter, we're going to be launching a documentary called, "The Battle for Jerusalem," about the battle for the holy land, going behind the scenes to the holy sites in Jerusalem and talking about why they still matter today. A lot of people think of it as a historical city, which of course it is, but the politics and the religious underpinnings of that city are as relevant, if not even more so, today. And we're going to take viewers behind the scenes there too. So I'm pretty excited about that project.
DW: Is there any tease you can offer about NYE show?
HEGSETH: Yeah. It's called the "All American New Year’s." But I think it's – we live in a moment where patriotism is being revisited because our kids are growing up in schools and being taught that they're global citizens and that America isn't special.
And I think part of what Fox does well, what Kennedy does, what we do on "Fox & Friends" is remind people that that the flag still matters, and the anthem still matters, and the country still matters, and orders still matter. So at the "All American New Year's," we’re going to focus on patriotism and service. Kind of fun, which we all love too, but part of that is going to be, we're going to have an enlistment ceremony with some new Army recruits who decided to serve their country and rather than reveling, they're going to be bringing up their right hand and swearing to defend the Constitution for all of us. I'm going to do it live on the air.
You think about how you're ringing in the new year. I mean these guys and gals are deciding to serve their country. So we're pretty excited about that. We have some other twists like that also in the show.
DW: How can viewers access your FOX Nation show?
HEGSETH: Yeah you can go to foxnews.com, click on FOX Nation, go to the app store or the equivalent in android, and download the FOX Nation app. You can do a free trial or you can – it's like six bucks a month. It's like Netflix for conservatives, and if you want more analysis, you can go in and tailor it to the types of things you want to be watching and stuff you want to go deeper on. So just go to the app store, download it, try it out for a second. Pay for the subscription. I found myself watching stuff on it – and I usually don't watch stuff on my phone or my iPad. So they're doing something right.
The Daily Wire would like to thank Pete Hegseth for speaking with us about his latest endeavors. You can follow Hegseth on Twitter here.