Say hello to Scottie Nell Hughes, chief political commentator for USA Radio Network. She lives in Nashville but splits a lot of her time between New York and Washington. Tonight she’ll be with “Mr. Trump” in Trump Tower. Before then, she’ll appear on CNN and CBS.
“I’m Hannah Montana,” Hughes told The Mirror in a phone conversation Tuesday afternoon. “I go from plain jane yoga pants mom to glamour and talking points. It’s a very Hannah Montana type of life.”
She likes the Hannah Montana comparison as opposed to a certain former VP hopeful. “I didn’t want to become the Sarah Palin of the 2016 campaign,” she said. What this means is that as a conservative woman, she and her ilk “just keep getting hit and hit and hit and then you fall or crumble or you’re a joke.”
Hughes assured, “I still have a heart.”
Asked about SNL’s recent portrayal of her, which depicted her as a dippy, large bosomed woman, she acknowledged that she cried about it. “What female doesn’t shed tears?” she asked. “I’m tough as can be, but I did [cry] when my daughter asked me, ‘Why are they making you out to be stupid?'”
Hughes says the skit was a shocker. “I had no idea it was coming,” she said. “I went to bed. I was going to church the next morning and had a [CNN] ‘New Day’ hit at 6 a.m. I thought it was hilarious.”
Some of her complaints about it were more superficial in nature. “I was upset that they said I had roots,” she said. “That’s an insult to southern women who never show roots.”
Being portrayed as a dunce also didn’t resonate. “To me, academics are number one,” she said. “I am not Miss America. I am truly a band geek at heart. I went to college through academic scholarships. That was heartbreaking to me.”
But being on TV is not easy. Anyone and everyone quickly become your critics and fashion stylists.
“I’ve had people upset with me for wearing a blue dress,” she said of her Tuesday attire. “It’s technically purple.”
She’s also had viewers complain about the hue of her skin. “People accuse me of spray tanning, but I don’t spray tan,” she said. “I do stay out in the sun a lot, enough to make my dermatiologist upset with me.”
She acknowledges that anti-Trumpers can be terrible. She’s also a target because her husband is a Trump delegate. “They’re vicious,” she said. “Besides the death threats, you’re ‘bad ass ugly’ or ‘a Fox News wannabe.’ Being with Trump has caused a lot of hate, that ‘I should be raped.’ Or, ‘I’m taking you and your daughter into the woods.'”
Hughes has gone to police twice with threats. “Usually they can track them,” she said. “One was a female in a band in a Chicago.”
She tries to not let it get to her. “I am not truly afraid,” she says. “I know what comes with this job and I’m not going to cry about it. There are hateful people in this world.”
Asked if she has a gun in her home, she replied, “Oh yes, both my husband and I have guns. They are very much in a locked location away from kids, away from everything.”
This is with good reason. Her own brother was fatally shot by the nanny’s 12-year-old son when he was 8. Hughes was not yet born and only heard what really happened after the Sandy Hook shootings in which 20 children died.
“I always thought they were playing cops and robbers,” she said. “A week after Sandy Hook, my mother sat me down and told me the truth about my brother. The older boy was jealous of my brother and the time the nanny was spending with him. She could hear him saying, ‘please please please don’t’ and the gun went off.”
Asked if she gets nervous to go on TV, she replied, “I get nervous because I respect it so much. I have wanted to do this since I was nine-years-old when I saw Wolf Blitzer and wanted to be wartime journalist.”
Avid watchers will notice that Hughes isn’t hugely antagonistic on TV. “I’ve learned how to simmer it down,” she said, explaining that different networks want varying degrees of drama.
When I mention CNN Don Lemon‘s show, she calls it “passionate” and says, “That and Sean Hannity are probably the best examples of that.”
Although she can be seen incessantly on CNN and has appeared on FNC, she hasn’t nailed down a formal contract.
“I watch them all,” she said. “I watch all the news networks and Netflix.”
Hughes has a good feeling for Trump about Tuesday’s New York primary. “I think he’s going to have a great night,” she said.
We gravitate to the topic of candidate nicknames and I bring up Ted Cruz’s “Sleazy Donald” and Trump’s “Lyin’ Ted.”
“That doesn’t help,” she said, although she notes that Trump is a “marketing genius” on this front. “I wasn’t necessarily a fan of Lyin’ Ted.”
Would Hughes work in a Trump administration? Hell yes.
“If he asked, I would consider it an honor to work in any administration,” she said. “His leadership style is phenomenal. He built his own ego up by building the team around him. That made me have a lot of respect around him.”
When asked where she stood on the incident between Corey Lewandowksi and Michelle Fields, she avoids taking a hard stance. “I stayed out of it,” she said. “I have a lot of respect for Michelle Fields and she supported my book.”
But she understands why the Trump campaign has had to make changes.
“Tonight at his event you will not be able to approach the candidate and rightfully so,” she said. “I think both sides didn’t handle the situation perfectly. If it happened, Corey should have said ‘Ms. Fields, I’m sorry.’ I also think Michelle should have possibly not been so aggressive, but that’s what she’s known for. The Secret Service had told her before, don’t get around Mr. Trump. I had my toe stepped on with stiletto heels. I don’t think that was that big of a deal.”
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Named for: My mother wanted a name that gender could not be revealed on a resumé.
First job ever: I started my own balloon selling business at a flea market in Nashville one weekend when I was 10. I realized all of the kids were being dragged to the flea market like I was and balloons always make things better.
Current employment: Chief Political Commentator USA Radio Networks
If someone wants to get on your good side, what candy or liquor should they ply you with? Neither. To me, a case of Dasani water is more valuable to me than chocolate or flowers. The only high maintenance part to me, I like to think, is that I have a sulfur allergy and I’m allergic to most water. But Dasani filters the sulfur out and keeps me from getting sick.
Most exotic place you’ve ever visited: Guantanamo Bay Cuba
Why do you think Washington is so polarized? And please consider your answer in terms of boring us. I think the struggle is between those who want to change the world and those who like it to be exactly as it is now.
How often do you Google search yourself? Never.. that is why I have a google alert.
Who is your celebrity crush? Tucker Carlson… a little bit less after he lost the bowtie and Dean Cain. What female journalist in her 30’s has not had a Lois Lane fantasy?
Least favorite word: NO
Word or phrase you overuse: Especially, “Just Sit There.”
Book that touched your soul: The Bible and 50 Shades of Grey
A thought that makes you want to cry: Hillary moving into the White House and Bill being the First Dude.
Weirdest habit you’ve observed in a newsroom (workplace) setting? One of the talk radio hosts I used to work with called himself a “Vocal Athlete” and expected us to treat him so.
Time you spend on Twitter each day (be honest): 27 hours
If you had to kiss a politician who would it be? My hubby. He serves on the State Executive Committee for the Tennessee Republican Party.
Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer? Joan Lunden
Chuck Todd or David Gregory? One I like to listen to moderate a panel and one I would like to give me tips on how to do my hair. You pick which one.
What site do you read regularly (other than your own)? Zulily
Do you believe in 5-year plans? If so, where do you hope to be in 5 years? Yes as well as 10yr, 15yr etc…I am at the stage of my life plan where it goes from MY life plan to OUR life plan. Everything I do hinges on what is going on in my children (Chicken & Biscuits) life and the opportunities and goals they have. (Editor’s note: Her children’s names are not “Chicken” and “Biscuits.”)
Stolen from Inside the Actors studio: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Well.. that did not go as planned…”
Pick one: CNN’s New Day or Morning Joe? I love being sparky in the morning and I always seem to light a political fire on New Day. Love that team as they are all smoking hot even at 6am!
ABC’s GMA or NBC’s TODAY Show? Depends who has the better concert series.
Gwen Ifill or Judy Woodruff? Amazing women.
Dave Weigel or Robert Costa? Amazing men.
Your pet’s name: Ronaldus Magnus (a.k.a. Reagan) the Golden Retriever LuLu McStuffins my mini Scottish Terrier.
Anderson Cooper or Don Lemon? Major respect for Anderson who was the first person to alert the country about the flood waters of my hometown of Nashville. While Don and I don’t always see eye to eye on issues, we both have a passion to find solutions in our work and not just read off a teleprompter. While those two are amazing, Wolf Blitzer was the reason I went into journalism after watching his coverage of Iraq. I am honored every time I get asked to come on his show. Truly amazing talent with all the men and women at CNN.
Chris Hayes or Rachel Maddow? Amazing progressives.
If you had to have a U.S. senator or congressman as your father who would it be? Congressman Louie Gohmert.
Since this is The Mirror Questionnaire, what would you change about yourself physically if you could? I think I have been on a diet since the day I was born… some more extreme then the other but I always try the craziest new workout or food fad. I wish I could get like double points for effort in regards to size.
And your personality? Since I love my job and what I do so much, I usually don’t realize a value that goes with it. I am the worst negotiator possible for myself and just consider myself extremely lucky to be apart of a show or a news organization. Many around me say this allows me to be taken advantage and make poor decisions just to stay involved. I trust to0 easily and often find myself hurt by those I respected and thought had my best interest in mind.
Preferred beach anywhere in the world: The Beach. Not Picky. Need sand, sun and a drink with an umbrella in it.
Guilty pleasure TV show: Jane the Virgin
The snack you eat most: Peanut butter on a spoon.
Breakfast cereal of choice: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
On a scale of 1 to 10, how self-obsessed are you? (10 being you can’t tear yourself away from your own daily Google search and 1 meaning you often spend time in the country away from your computer and don’t give a crap about your Klout score.) It’s kind of a 5, depends on what the news cycle it is. I will always have my phone on me and that’s an unfortunate trademark of today.
Workout regimen: One hour cardio on the treadmill, 100 crunches, 25 pushups every weekday even though I admit I sometimes have to make up on a weekend if I miss one. I always do this before the family wakes up and allows me to catch up on all of the overnight headlines before the rest of the world.
Pick one – flabby thighs, cankles or love handles? On me or my man? Big difference.
Choose: Beautiful eyes, best personality or perfect legs? Depends if it’s for me, my daughter or my personal trainer?
A thought that brings you great joy: My children discussing the latest current news story while cleaning their rooms.
A regret (of any kind): Upon graduation, I chose to find a job close to home so I could look after my parents. However, I wish I would have tried to work a few years in DC or NYC before settling down and starting a family.
Mika and Joe or Oprah and Steadman? As for on air chemistry, I think Mika and Joe are broadcast soulmates and have the best chemistry out of any on air duo today. You can tell they genuinely respect each other and look at the show as truly a TEAM effort.
Any brushes with death? If so, please describe. Everyday… My guardian angels deserve superhero capes for the trouble I get myself into.
Just a preference Q: Bo or Sunny? I had to look up who they are… Still a fan of Barney and Mrs. Beasley, the Bush Scottish Terriers.
Most annoying thing your editor (boss) does: I always have male bosses and I think they seriously think women just wake up in full makeup and hair.
Rank how hairy your butt is: 1 to 10? I despise all body hair and pay lots of money to not have any.
Go for a stroll in the park with one of the following and explain the reason for your choice. 1. Whoopi Goldberg, The View. 2. CNN’s Chris Cuomo. 3. FNC’s Megyn Kelly. I have always respected Megyn as a talent and a working mother. If a girl in this businesses tells you that she does not wish she was like Megyn Kelly then she is lying. Megyn has truly broken the modern day “glass ceiling” for women in broadcasting and deserves uber praise for it.
When was the last time you were, if ever, naked outside? Umm.. did you not see the video?
From The Sunday Times’ Toby Harnden: If you could tell one person to their face that they’re full of shit, with no consequences, who would it be? President Obama
From lefty radio host Bill Press: Where’s the one place in Washington you’d love to have sex, but can’t? The Oval Office … hello!
From former Rep. Weiner’s ex-phone sex partner Sydney Elaine Leathers: Who is the worst journalist on your favorite news channel? I am a lover not a hater.
From Washington Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay: Which universally acclaimed piece of literature, art, film, or music can you simply not stand? Monty Python anything…
From SiriusXM’s Julie Mason: What is the lie you always tell about yourself? That I am 5’11 but I am actually 5’10 and some change but always round up.
From Stateless Media’s Peter Savodnik: Why do you matter? I obviously do because you asked me to do this questionnaire.
From New York Post’s Tara Palmeri: If you could give one politician or talking head a makeover, who would it be and what would you do? Sally Kohn. I think she is an amazing talent and beautiful, but I would love to just for one day completely girly her up with everything pink, lace, ribbons and monogrammed. I keep hoping to make a bet with her regarding the winner in Nov. If I win, she gets glamorized. If she wins, I buy a pant suit.
From motivational author and blogger Sophia Nelson: What do you want people to say about you, not when you die, but as you live? Regardless of whether or not we agreed, I always lived by the broadcast golden rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you and I have awesome legs.
From GotNews’ Charles Johnson: What is one idea that you have that you are certain is true that no one else has? Post It Notes?
Please provide a question for the next lucky victim of The Mirror Questionnaire. Make it good. It may live on indefinitely. Who is the one person who you would not wish to answer this questionnaire on your behalf?