Charles Hurt, who went from covering fires, city hall and the mob in Detroit to becoming one of the nation’s feistiest conservative voices in print, online and on air, will become the next opinion editor of The Washington Times, newspaper President and CEO Larry Beasley announced Sunday.
A Washington Times columnist and Fox News contributor often seen on the cable network’s signature evening news roundtable, Mr. Hurt in his 20-year career has worked his way up from a beat reporter for the Detroit News and Washington correspondent for the Charlotte Observer before joining The Washington Times in 2003. He later served as D.C. bureau chief and White House correspondent for the New York Post and editor at the hugely influential Drudge Report.
Mr. Hurt will rejoin The Times as a full-time staff member in January and in March will officially take over for Opinion Page Editor David Keene, overseeing the paper’s award-winning editorial page, commentary section and continuing expansion of the company’s online opinion presence.
Mr. Keene, a trusted adviser to presidents and high officials, a stalwart defender of Second Amendment rights and one of the conservative movement’s most venerated voices, will remain with the paper as an editor at large, contributing regular columns and representing The Times.
Editorial Page Editor Wesley Pruden, longtime editor-in-chief who joined The Washington Times just months after its founding 34 years ago, will remain in a full-time capacity overseeing the paper’s editorials. He will also continue to write his popular biweekly columns, which have been carried by the paper for more than three decades.
“Charlie is the perfect fit for The Times. He has strong conservative values and will ensure our opinion pages are a lively forum for vigorous policy debates,” said Mr. Beasley. “Charlie understands that Washington should be working for people across the country, not just for the inside-the-Beltway crowd.”
Mr. Hurt was one of the few national commentators to grasp early on the power and scope of President-elect Donald Trump’s appeal.
On the day Mr. Trump announced his presidential campaign last year, Mr. Hurt lauded: “Finally, a serious and truly experienced contender. Donald Trump and his $9 billions just made the biggest splash of the 2016 presidential race.”
It was several months before others in the mainstream began taking Mr. Trump seriously.
“The Washington Times is viewed by conservatives around the country as indispensable; millions of whom look to it for thought leadership and a willingness to stand up for principle over all else,” said Mr. Keene. “Charlie will do that, giving voice to conservative cultural values, limited constitutional government and a free economy.”
Mr. Hurt said he is eager to build on the strong foundation and powerful name recognition of The Washington Times as a conservative voice in the national political debate, expanding on the work of Mr. Keene and Mr. Pruden.
“It really is an honor to follow such powerful and principled voices that have so unflinchingly defended liberty at every turn for more than three decades,” Mr. Hurt said. “Be it taxes, illegal immigration, judicial nominations or guns, The Washington Times has never shied away from standing up for individual Americans.”
Mr. Hurt inherits an editorial department that includes some of the city’s must-read conservative columnists on politics, economics, policy and culture, including Stephen Moore, Kelly Riddell, Mercedes Schlapp, Mr. Keene and Mr. Pruden. In addition, The Times’ commentary section is a favored soapbox for lawmakers, foreign officials and scholars to contribute op-ed pieces, essays and provocative daily book reviews.
“Too many people who come to Washington get infected by this city and the allure of power, be they politicians or reporters. Charlie’s never fallen victim to that,” said Executive Editor Christopher Dolan. “Democrats and Republicans alike have both felt the sting of his pen, and there is nobody better suited to keeping The Washington Times the pre-eminent watchdog for the nation’s capital.”
A graduate of Alexandria’s Episcopal High School and Hampden-Sydney College, Mr. Hurt paid his dues as news reporter before switching over to political commentary.
Even before finishing college, he had seen the inside of a newsroom at the Danville (Virginia) Register and Bee and the Richmond Times-Dispatch before taking his first full-time reporting job with The Detroit News. His reporting there won multiple honors, including a Scripps Howard Public Service award for a series exposing fatal deficiencies in the Detroit Fire Department and recognition from the Michigan Associated Press for his investigation into problems with a $1.5 billion bond offering intended to help rebuild the city’s public schools.
He has covered multiple political campaigns for The Charlotte Observer, the New York Post and The Washington Times, and was one of the first reporters to expose the ethical problems of Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina in the run-up to his failed 2004 presidential campaign.
Mr. Hurt was kicked off of candidate Barack Obama’s press plane during the 2008 campaign after campaign officials took exception to a slashingly critical column he wrote for the New York Post.
Mr. Hurt also knows his way around Capitol Hill.
On Capitol Hill for The Times, Mr. Hurt covered the hotly contested judicial nomination fights during the George W. Bush administration, including the confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Anthony Alito.
In the March 20, 2005, edition of The New York Times, conservative columnist William Safire credited Mr. Hurt for being the first reporter to write about a mysterious new parliamentary tactic dubbed the “nuclear option” for bypassing the Senate filibuster to confirm judicial nominees.
“That was back when The New York Times wasn’t afraid to have a brilliant conservative voice in their editorial pages,” Mr. Hurt said.
Mr. Hurt lives in Chatham, Virginia, with his wife and three children.