Police say a woman accidentally bumped Vivek Ramaswamy's rental car while leaving a deli. Right-wingers want her to “rot in prison.”

A woman accidentally backed her car into one that had been rented by Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign in Iowa on Thursday, according to a local police department. But the modern right is desperate to portray itself as under attack from hordes of left-wing terrorists, so several major right-wing media outlets spent Thursday and Friday parroting Ramaswamy’s claim that the car had instead been deliberately hit by activists protesting his campaign stop. 

Ramaswamy alleged in a Thursday afternoon social media post that two protesters “got into their car & rammed it into ours.” Roughly two hours later, the Grinnell, Iowa, Police Department said in a statement that its investigation had revealed “no evidence to substantiate” the claim that the campaign’s rental car had been “intentionally rammed.” 

Instead, the police found that the driver had been leaving a deli where she had just eaten lunch and that “while backing up she accidentally made contact” with the vehicle, which was “unoccupied at the time.” The driver “stated she was not in the area to protest, she did not know who the vehicle she struck belonged to, she did not intentionally back into the vehicle, and she did not flee the scene of the accident,” the statement said. The driver, a student at Grinnell College, also spoke to her campus newspaper, saying, “It was not an intentional accident whatsoever.”

But shortly after that statement’s release, Ramaswamy’s claim was trumpeted uncontested on Fox News.

Prime-time star Jesse Watters, whose show is a haven for thinly sourced conspiracy theories highlighting the purported perfidy of the left, claimed that the candidate had been “the victim of a hit-and-run by crazy left-wing protesters.” Watters then brought on Ramaswamy and asked him, “Do you think they were trying to hurt you when they rammed their car into yours?”

On-screen text during the segment claimed “protesters crash car into Vivek’s SUV” and “Vivek attacked by left wing protesters.”

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Citation From the October 5, 2023, edition of Fox News' Jesse Watters Primetime.

Even after Politico reported that local police had disputed Ramaswamy’s story on Friday, right-wing outlets continued to promote the candidate’s claim. Later Friday morning, both Fox and Newsmax ran reports claiming that Ramaswamy’s car had been hit by protesters. In a particularly confusing case, a segment on Fox’s America’s Newsroom aired the chyron “Vivek Ramaswamy’s car rammed by protesters in Iowa” while other on-screen text simultaneously pointed out that the police had disputed that claim.

Meanwhile, Daily Wire podcaster Michael Knowles called the driver a “punk” who “needs to be imprisoned for a long time” because their actions were “political violence” that is “along the spectrum of assassination.”

“That protester should rot in prison for years,” he added. “That is not only an attempt at committing violence against a presidential candidate, that is violence, that is serious violence and someone could have gotten seriously hurt, if not killed.” 

Knowles went on to link the bumping of Ramaswamy’s empty rental car to “the BLM riots that were encouraged by our liberal establishment.”