MSNBC host Karen Finney on Tuesday abruptly ended an interview with conservative radio personality Hugh Hewitt after he repeatedly tried to get her to defend former Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy's 1950s-era communist witch hunt.
On her MSNBC show over the weekend, Finney had said that Cruz' rhetoric about using "grassroots common sense" was "reminiscent" of McCarthy.
Hewitt invited Finney on his radio show on Tuesday and immediately demanded to know if "communists infiltrated the United States government?"
"If we go back to the McCarthy hearings, it's pretty clear that he, A, created a culture of paranoia and fear that people later recognized was -- you know, people sort of bought into it, and then recognized that it was absolutely misplaced," Finney explained. "I mean, that's the point."
"But, Karen, did any communists infiltrate our government?" Hewitt pressed.
"That's like Michele Bachmann accusing my friend, Huma Abedin, being Muslim brotherhood because, you know, someone she may have known, may have known somebody," Finney pointed out.
"No, it's not," Hewitt insisted. "This is just a historical question. Was Alger Hiss a communist?"
Hiss was a former government attorney who was accused of espionage and being a secret communist. He was eventually served three and a half years after being convicted of perjury in 1950. His conviction was credited with help launching McCarthy's career.
"The point I was trying to make with this, Joe McCarthy was on a mission to root out communism in the government, and he did it in such a way that created a hysteria that was very unhealthy for this country," Finney noted.
"I just want to know, do you think Alger Hiss a communist?" Hewitt asked again. "Either he was or he wasn't. Do you think he was a communist spy?"
"I don't think that has anything to do with the point that I was making," Finney replied.
Hewitt continued the line of questioning for several more minutes: "Karen, this is astonishing. You can't bring yourself to say that Alger Hiss was a communist spy... I know it's not your point. I'm just amazed."
At that point, Finny hung up the phone.
"That is amazing!" Hewitt exclaimed. "The people who have hung up on me in my life now include Karen Finny and Helen Thomas and Ed Henry."
Writing on his blog, the conservative host accused Finney of being "just another in an endless series of talking heads who don’t know enough to engage in basic arguments about the propositions they put forward on air with complete certainty."
"It is apparent that Finney just isn’t very bright," he opined. "Finney, well, just another brick-in-the-wall of MSNBC and its parent’s reputation."
Listen to this audio from The Hugh Hewitt Show via The Washington Free Beacon, broadcast Aug. 27, 2013.