Kevin McCarthy and Matt Gaetz

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media are furious with Matt Gaetz for his successful ouster of Speaker McCarthy

  • Right-wing media have launched angry attacks at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after he successfully ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), calling him a “self-serving” “narcissist” who wanted to cause disruption and saying he’s harmed his party. 

  • Gaetz ousted McCarthy after long clashing with him, drawing some opposition from his party

    • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed a motion to remove McCarthy from his post as speaker of the House, resulting in the first-ever removal of a U.S. House speaker. Two hundred eight Democrats, along with Gaetz and seven other Republicans, voted to remove McCarthy. [The Guardian, 10/3/23]
    • The Washington Post reported that the GOP “was considering expelling Gaetz from its caucus.” Rep. Don Bacon (R-NB) said he wants Gaetz “out of the conference,” and Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) said he expects to see a resolution doing that. [The Washington Post, 10/3/23; MSNBC, 10/4/23]
    • Gaetz, as part of the House Freedom Caucus, had voted against McCarthy for House speaker in January 2023 multiple times. Gaetz had wanted fellow member of Congress Jim Jordan (R-OH) as speaker instead, and it took an unprecedented 15 rounds of speaker nomination votes for McCarthy to finally be elected. [Roll Call, 1/7/23; The Hill, 12/26/22]
    • A few Republicans, including Gaetz, were livid with McCarthy over his recent prevention of a government shutdown. Gaetz and other members of the Freedom Caucus bashed McCarthy, saying that he “allowed the DC Uniparty to win again” and criticized him for siding with Democrats. [The New York Times, 9/30/23]
  • Right-wing media have attacked Gaetz, calling him a “self-serving” “narcissist” and “POS demagogue”

    • Conservative commentator Dick Morris appeared on Newsmax to call Gaetz a “self-serving, ambitious guy” and an “irresponsible demagogue.” Morris said, “I’m allied with what Newt Gingrich says, which is that Gaetz is a self-serving, ambitious guy who did this simply to attract attention.” [Newsmax, Chris Plante The Right Squad, 10/3/23]
    • Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy called Gaetz “dangerous for the Republican Party” and mocked his relationships with Democrats. Gowdy said that “Gaetz defended” former Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and “he’s got a crush on AOC,” referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). “I can't tell you the psychiatric diagnosis — I can just tell you it’s dangerous for the Republican Party.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/4/23
    • Fox News host Brian Kilmeade claimed that Gaetz ousted McCarthy to fulfill his desire of doing “podcasts” and appearing on TV. Kilmeade stated: “The real problem is Matt Gaetz was looking for an opening to oust him and he did it. And if you want to have a big plan like you want to become a speaker and you have an image, but he has no interest. He just — this guy wants to fill in on other networks, put on headsets, and do podcasts.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/4/23]
    • In a long Twitter/X rant, Fox News host Mark Levin called Gaetz a “POS demagogue who repeatedly lied during the House floor debate.” Levin also defended McCarthy’s actions avoiding the government shutdown, saying that Gaetz “insisted that the House failed to bring up 12 separate appropriations bills. The fact is they could not get them out of committee because Democrats wanted to spend a great deal more, which would have blown up the budget further, and conservatives opposed the bills. It had nothing to do with a refusal by McCarthy to oppose regular order.” [Twitter/X, 10/4/23]
    • OutKick host Tomi Lahren posted derisively about the ouster, saying that “Gaetz needs the camera lights to shine on him so screw it all!” [Twitter/X, 10/3/23]
    • Former Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera called Gaetz a “rat,” a “douche,” and a “narcissist.” Rivera posted that it is a “Sad State of the Nation when House Speaker’s job is threatened by a douche like Matt Gaetz. Gaetz represents no one but himself. He is a narcissist and anarchist whose goals are chaos, disruption and attention. He doesn’t give a shit about governing or about anyone but himself.” [Twitter/X, 10/3/23, 10/3/23]
  • Some have also said Gaetz has harmed Republicans and benefited Democrats

    • Brian Kilmeade noted that Democrats have a “strong case” to use the GOP infighting to their electoral advantage. Kilmeade stated: “They have a strong case when you go to these swing districts and say, ‘Look. You saw the chaos in the House. You got to put a Democrat in charge. Give Hakeem Jeffries the gavel,’” referring to the Democratic representative from New York. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/4/23]
    • Trey Gowdy complained that while “the whole world is watching,” “Republicans have decided to kind of air out personal grievances,” which he said will help the Democratic Party. Gowdy argued: “The whole country is watching. Of all the problems we have, of all the problems we have in this country, Republicans have decided to kind of air out personal grievances. So Hakeem Jeffries and the rest of them are just sitting there saying, ‘You know what? Have at it. Whoever the new speaker is, don’t worry. You won't be speaker for long because we’re going to retake the house next fall,’ and right now they’d be right.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/4/23]
    • Fox host Jesse Watters pointed out that “the Republicans just dethroned their best fundraiser and throttled the impeachment inquiry.” Watters also said that “the Democrats are laughing at the Republicans now.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 10/3/23]
    • Fox host Jeanine Pirro said she was “furious” over McCarthy’s ousting and that the GOP had become “dysfunctional.” She complained, “First of all, we're without a speaker. This is historic. Something like this hasn't happened in well over 100 years. And now what we've got is total chaos when the Republicans are playing out their infighting on national television in a historic way instead of fighting Joe Biden's policies. The one time we are up in virtually every metric as it relates to the Biden administration, you've got the Republicans going out there and showing how dysfunctional they are as Matt Gaetz is engaging in fundraising.” [Fox News, The Five, 10/3/23]
    • Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberley Strassel claimed that Gaetz and allies “are about to join with Democrats to torpedo the GOP.” She posted, “To be clear on what is happening: Matt Gaetz and a handful of so-called GOP conservatives are about to join with Democrats to torpedo the GOP and undermine the very goals they claim to believe in. Emphasis on ‘claim.’ This is about headlines, donations, and their own elections. It's not about principle.” [Twitter/X, 10/3/23]
    • Radio host Hugh Hewitt claimed the GOP members who voted against McCarthy are “slid[ing] down chaos hill.” He posted to X: “The five GOP congressmen who started slide down chaos hill are Andy Biggs (AZ) Dan Bishop (NC) Ken Buck (CO) Ralph Norman (SC) Matt Rosendale (Maryland-Montana during his vacations). Gaetz jumped on their sled and a few others joined on and now it’s a train wreck. Patriots all.” [Twitter/X, 10/3/23]
    • An article for National Review slammed the GOP for losing at “the basic blocking and tackling of politics.” The article notes that “for a party that keeps talking about ‘winning,’ the Republican Party not only loses a lot, it loses at the basic blocking and tackling of politics. You can complain about the Democrats’ rank irresponsibility in joining Gaetz’s effort to tear down McCarthy, but it’s not really the job of the House Democrats to save House Republicans from the consequences of GOP infighting.” [National Review, 10/4/23]
    • Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich lamented that “you will get a week or 10 days of the media focusing on Republican disarray.” Gingrich claimed that there are “4%” who “decided they were so morally superior, so intellectually pure, so patriotically better that they would side with the Democrats.” He contended, “We ought to be focusing on Biden. We ought to be focusing on the economy. We ought to be focusing on the border. Instead you’re going to get a week or 10 days of the media focusing on Republican disarray. It's an astonishingly destructive behavior by a handful of egocentric people who think they’re superior to 96% of the conference.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/3/23]