Sen. Mitt Romney spoke about how Fox News has poisoned politics, if not the U.S. itself, in an excerpt from a forthcoming biography.
The book, Romney: A Reckoning, is written by Atlantic journalist McKay Coppins with a lot of cooperation from Romney. The Atlantic released an excerpt last month. More recently, an excerpt was shared with CNN. Oliver Darcy revealed some of its contents.
As in the original excerpt, Romney expresses shock and horror at the MAGA turn of the GOP. In this excerpt, Romney blamed Tucker Carlson for turning the GOP into “the pro-Russian, pro-authoritarian party.”
Romney also had to reckon with the fact that the same people who once championed his presidential candidacy now vilify him. Sean Hannity is the perfect example. When Romney ran for president, Hannity was a reliable booster. Not in the age of Trumpism, though.
At one point in 2019, after seeing a clip of Fox News host and pro-Trump propagandist Sean Hannity rant about him as a “weak, sanctimonious Washington swamp politician,” Romney decided to phone up his old ally, Coppins wrote.
But the call didn’t go well, with Hannity scolding Romney and accusing him of making certain comments to appease the mainstream press. “You’re just doing this because you want to get praise on MSNBC!” Hannity told Romney, according to the book. Hannity then questioned Romney on Hunter Biden, and erupted when the senator confessed he was not aware of Burisma, according to the book: “How do you not know what Burisma is?”
Romney got in a quite enjoyable dig of his own:
“I can only imagine that Sean is consumed with Tucker Carlson being ahead of him, and his everyday effort is to find ways to reclaim the throne as the most watched,” Romney told Coppins. “He’s in the same vein as Tucker. Just not as effective as Tucker — Tucker’s smart.”
Hannity reportedly told CNN that he “only wished the best for [the] soon to be former Senator." And to show just how much he really wished Romney the best, Hannity added, “It’s very clear losing the presidency has turned Mitt into a small, angry, and very bitter man” and “It’s sad to see.”
Romney also puts blame on Fox News. He called Fox a “serious problem” and an enabler of “moron” Lou Dobbs’ anti-immigrant fear mongering.
Good on Romney for telling it like it is now. But he didn’t show any reservations about Fox News when he was running for president. While it’s true Fox has gotten much, much worse since then, it was plainly awful back in 2012, the year Romney ran for president, too. But better late than never, I guess.
(Romney caricature by DonkeyHotey via Flickr and Creative Commons license)