Having spent much of his Senate term as a lonely Republican foil to Donald Trump and his allies, Mitt Romney is now using what remains of his time in the chamber to go on the offense. In Romney: A Reckoning, an upcoming biography by McKay Coppins, the junior senator from Utah can be read attacking Ron DeSantis, Mitch McConnell, and a host of other current and former congressional colleagues. But he reserved some of his most biting criticism for a trio of conservative media heavyweights.
According to an excerpt seen by CNN, Romney writes that Sean Hannity was at one point overcome with jealousy toward Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host who spent several years atop the cable news ratings hierarchy. “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 reportedly told Coppins. The senator goes on to suggest that Hannity has tried to ape Carlson’s style, writing, “He’s in the same vein as Tucker. Just not as effective as Tucker—Tucker’s smart.”
For his part, Hannity no longer has to contend with Carlson’s dominance. Carlson was fired by the network in April and now airs an independent show on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Hannity, meanwhile, responded to Romney’s remarks by mocking his loss to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race. “It’s very clear losing the presidency has turned Mitt into a small, angry, and very bitter man. It’s sad to see,” the host told CNN through a spokesperson.
Romney’s relationship with the Fox host apparently came to a head in 2019, when Hannity described the Utah lawmaker on-air as a “weak, sanctimonious Washington swamp politician,” likely in response to the senator’s criticisms of Trump leading up to his first impeachment trial. According to the book, Romney then called Hannity up, which led to a less-than-reconciliatory conversation: The host reportedly accused Romney of only seeking “praise on MSNBC” and demanded to know why Romney wasn’t better informed on Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.
Hannity and Carlson aren’t the only Fox affiliates to get a mention in the book. Per Coppins, Romney considered Lou Dobbs, a former Fox Business host, “a moron” and Fox his “enabler” after seeing one of Dobbs’s anti-immigrant segments, leading him to describe Fox as a “serious problem.” (Fox canceled Dobbs’s show in 2021, a decision that was reportedly related to the host’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the voting-machine companies that helped facilitate it.)
While Romney has made known his hope for the GOP to move on from Trump, he isn’t exactly a fan of the former president’s most formidable challenger in the 2024 Republican primary. According to The New York Times, Romney said that Florida governor Ron DeSantis had “no warmth at all” and shared some of the “odious qualities” found in Trump, including his obsession with culture-war battles. Still, Romney reportedly said supporting DeSantis would be a “no-brainer” if that meant stopping Trump, even if DeSantis “looks like he’s got a toothache” every time he has to glad-hand with voters.
The Utah senator’s unfiltered takes on his fellow Republicans have been spilling out in the days ahead of the book’s publication, with Politico’s Playbook providing a rundown of jabs at the likes of Newt Gingrich (“A smug know-it-all, smarmy, and too pleased with himself”), Mike Huckabee (“huckster,” a “caricature of a for-profit preacher”), and Rick Santorum (“Sanctimonious, severe, and strange”), among others.
Romney, 76, announced last month that he would not be seeking another term in the Senate. “At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders,” he said in a video statement shared on X. “They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”