Benzema, while celebrated at club level, hasn't played for Deschamps' Les Bleus since before the 2016 Euros.
Hermel told RMC: "The supreme error is the interview in Marca, just before the Euros, when he talks about 'the racist part of France'.
"I remember, I was at the time on a TV program in Spain, and they showed me that by saying to me: 'That's it, you're still going to defend Benzema?' And I said myself: 'But how do you want me to defend Benzema on this?'
"It was a monumental error. Without that, he would be world champion today.
"He didn't make the World Cup because of that..."