Fox News creates a fake presidential campaign for Vivek Ramaswamy

Fox has rolled out the red carpet for a previously unknown gadfly whom the network built into a right-wing star

Fox News is promoting the longshot vanity campaign of biotech investment tycoon Vivek Ramaswamy, the so-called “CEO of Anti-Woke, Inc.,” whose entire political identity is defined by his opposition to identity politics — and whose notoriety in right-wing popular culture is itself a Fox News creation.

Ramaswamy is not a serious Republican candidate for national office in 2024, as he never had any previous public following or political experience. What his media-based candidacy really says, however, is that Fox News will play a role in controlling the messaging and roster of 2024 Republican candidates, much like how the network previously recruited and promoted candidates during the 2022 midterms, while the network also juggles between its main loyalty to defeated and disgraced former President Donald Trump and its overt flirtation with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

People who don’t watch Fox News might never have heard of Ramaswamy, but inside the network’s echo chamber he has been a steady fixture of programming for more than a year. According to Media Matters’ internal guest database, Ramaswamy appeared on Fox News programming at least 64 times in 2022, with another 12 appearances so far in 2023, including on Fox’s top-rated morning and prime-time programs since his announcement on Tuesday.

During his numerous appearances, Ramaswamy has attacked everything from workplace diversity initiatives to language tools in Microsoft Word, depicting them as an instrument of cultural destruction and mind control. He has occasionally branched out into other extreme and nonsensical positions during his Fox appearances, such as claiming that global warming is a good thing, as well as speculating that government initiatives on diversity and climate change policies were to blame for the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio (rather than deregulation and corporate negligence).

Fitting with Fox’s previous track record, Ramaswamy announced his campaign on Tuesday night’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, sitting down with a host who essentially dictated the Republican Party’s campaign message last year.

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Citation From the February 21, 2023, edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): So I’m not going to ask any political questions, because given my calls in the midterms, I don’t understand American politics. So, I’m not going to ask you what you do in Iowa, there are other people who can do that. Give us the bullet points of what you’re going to tell audiences as you embark from here on this campaign.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY: I think we need to put merit back into America, in every sphere of our lives. I mean, merit in who gets into this country. Let’s start with that. Okay. I think more people, like my parents can be a good thing for this country, but if people whose first act of entering this country is a law breaking one, we should say a hard no to that. Not just who gets in, but also who gets ahead. Decimating affirmative action, it has been a national cancer. One of my top priorities will be to end affirmative action in every sphere of American life. And it is not just meritocracy in who gets ahead —

CARLSON: Ending affirmative action?


CARLSON: I mean, our whole government is based on that idea.

The next morning, Ramaswamy was invited to join the friendly confines of Fox & Friends, where he denounced what he called “the rise of secular religions like wokeness and climate-ism in America.”

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Citation From the February 22, 2023, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

Ramaswamy was also granted an appearance Wednesday on Fox Business’ flagship morning program Varney & Co., even though his announcement was of absolutely zero significance as any sort of financial news.

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Citation From the February 22, 2023, edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.

Then on Thursday night, Ramaswamy appeared with Fox News prime-time star and longtime Trump adviser Sean Hannity, during which Ramaswamy gave away the game that he would not actually criticize Donald Trump or his agenda, as Trump continues to serve as the Republican Party’s true spiritual leader.

This phenomenon of Fox elevating a pro-Trump voice as an ostensible opponent to Trump in 2024 also bears some similarity to the way a dictatorial regime puts up its own controlled opposition parties, who only provide an extra voice of praise to the regime’s policies.

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Citation From the February 23, 2023, edition of Fox News’ Hannity

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Okay, so you’re looking for the Republican nomination. Probably, the leader right now would be Donald Trump if you look at the polls. What are the policy differences you have between yourself and Donald Trump?

VIVEK RAMASWAMY: So, first of all, Donald Trump’s a friend. I’m not running against him. I am running on a vision for our nation —

HANNITY: Wait a minute, but you’re not running for him. You’re running against him, let’s be honest.

RAMASWAMY: Okay, well, here’s what I’m running for our country. But here’s — but let’s talk about differences, because I’m with you, Sean. He was the OG of America First. I’m taking that to the next level with America First 2.0.

Ramaswamy is a right-wing gadfly whose supposed opposition to “wokeness” turned into a valuable grift within the conservative media space, where he is treated as some kind of thought leader. His presidential ambitions in the upcoming national election are more analogous to 2020 vanity candidates like Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson, while to Fox News he serves a valuable purpose of presenting the facade of a primary field outside of the network’s genuine candidates, Trump and DeSantis.

Ironically, in 2011, Ramaswamy was the recipient of a valuable and prestigious postgraduate grant from The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a charitable fund set up by the older brother of billionaire philanthropist George Soros and available exclusively to immigrants and first-generation Americans. Historically, Fox News has attacked recipients from the Soros family's philanthropic and political endeavors, with George Soros serving as a popular boogeyman whom the network blames for orchestrating the collapse of American society and indeed the whole of Western civilization.


Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on Fox News Channel (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) for segments that analysts determined to include Vivek Ramaswamy as a guest from January 1, 2022, through February 23, 2023.