NBC’s Meet the Press hosted Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy over the weekend, despite his candidacy seeming to have been manufactured entirely by Fox News. In what should be an object lesson for any mainstream media outlet, Ramaswamy returned to Fox on Monday to attack Meet The Press moderator Chuck Todd and claim that he’d won on “the other side’s home turf.”
In the lead up to Ramaswamy’s triumphant homecoming, Fox prime-time star Sean Hannity mentioned Ramaswamy during his daily radio show Monday, revealing that he in fact knows that Ramaswamy is not going to win and that “nobody really has known who he is up to this point.” However, Hannity credited Ramaswamy with going into “enemy territory” such as CNN and NBC to help get Fox’s preferred message across. Hannity also seemed proud of reports that former CNN host Don Lemon’s heated interview with Ramaswamy may have been the final straw that led the network to fire him, something that Ramaswamy himself has boasted of publicly, calling it a “net positive” for the network.
Hannity then played a clip from Ramaswamy’s April 30 Meet The Press appearance, in which the purported candidate promoted Fox’s preferred anti-trans narratives. “Anyway, so he’s really made his mark in terms of, you know, being pretty courageous and going into enemy territory and debating these guys,” Hannity concluded. “I do give him credit for that.”
Hannity welcomed Ramaswamy back from “enemy territory” Monday night, with an interview on his prime-time Fox News show before a cheering studio audience. Hannity kicked off the segment by playing the same clip as he’d done on his radio show, then ridiculed Todd for having asked what he called “a dumbass question.”
Ramaswamy then repeatedly referred to LGBTQ people and their supporters as a “cult,” and then parroted Hannity’s own explanation of his mainstream media appearances. “I like going on those programs, Don Lemon, Chuck Todd, you name it,” he said. “I like going on and having that debate on the other side’s home turf and winning.”
Other right-wing outlets that declared Ramaswamy the clear winner of his Meet The Press appearance included The Blaze and the Murdoch-owned New York Post. In such an atmosphere, mainstream media outlets should question their instincts before bringing on Fox News’ manufactured presidential candidate. What is the point of hosting a virtually unknown right-wing gadfly?
The time would be better spent drilling down on the right-wing media ecosystem itself. For example, Ramaswamy has raised less than $1 million from people other than himself, despite the free publicity he has enjoyed from frequent appearances on Fox News and other right-wing media outlets. Since Ramaswamy himself says that his mainstream media appearances are an excursion to “the other side,” mainstream outlets should greet him not as if he were an actual candidate, but instead quiz him as the media political operative he so openly is.