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  5. Mitt Romney thought Sean Hannity was 'consumed' with trying to be like Tucker Carlson — but wasn't as effective as his fellow host: new book

Mitt Romney thought Sean Hannity was 'consumed' with trying to be like Tucker Carlson but wasn't as effective as his fellow host: new book

Matthew Loh   

Mitt Romney thought Sean Hannity was 'consumed' with trying to be like Tucker Carlson — but wasn't as effective as his fellow host: new book
  • A new book about Sen. Mitt Romney details his interactions with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
  • Romney and Hannity were allies, but the TV host turned on the senator over his anti-MAGA posture.

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney believed Fox News host Sean Hannity was "consumed" with his colleague Tucker Carlson beating him in TV ratings, according to a new book about the Utah lawmaker.

"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 told McKay Coppins, a journalist for The Atlantic.

These details are featured in Coppins' forthcoming book, "Romney: A Reckoning." CNN obtained several advance excerpts of the book.

Hannity and Carlson were both hosts at Fox News until Carlson was booted from the network in April. Carlson joined Fox in 2009, and started hosting his own talk show on the network in 2016.

Hannity got his start at Fox much earlier, joining the network in 1996 and eventually hosting his own show in 2009. Romney, as a high-profile GOP lawmaker, spoke frequently on Hannity's TV and radio shows.

But as then-presidential candidate Donald Trump rose in political influence, both hosts gravitated to his far-right rhetoric and conspiracy theories. That put them increasingly at odds with Romney, who decried the MAGA movement.

For his part, Romney suspected Hannity was being influenced by Carlson's style, Coppins' book shows.

"He's in the same vein as Tucker. Just not as effective as Tucker," Romney said, per the book. "Tucker's smart."

At Fox, Carlson had been a star, setting a record for the most-watched host in US history. He averaged 4.5 million views per quarter when he earned that accolade in April 2020.

But as detailed in Coppins' book, Romney lamented what he saw as Carlson leading the charge in right-wing news that ostracized immigrants, spread conspiracy theories, and generated MAGA propaganda.

Carlson was turning the GOP into a "pro-Russian, pro-authoritarian party," Romney told Coppins, per CNN.

And Hannity followed Carlson's lead, attacking Romney on air in 2019 as a "weak, sanctimonious Washington swamp politician," after which Romney called the host and confronted him, per Coppins' book.

Hannity bashed Romney over the phone and accused the veteran senator — who once was the GOP presidential nominee — of criticizing then-President Donald Trump only because he wanted to look good on mainstream media, Coppins writes.

"You're just doing this because you want to get praise on MSNBC!" Hannity told Romney, per Coppins.

When Hannity asked Romney what he knew about Hunter Biden's scandals, Romney told him he didn't know about Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company of which Biden was a board member.

"How do you not know what Burisma is?" an irate Hannity said, per Coppins' book.

When reached for comment, Hannity told Insider through a Fox News spokesperson that he "only wished the best for the soon to be former Senator."

"It's very clear losing the presidency has turned Mitt into a small, angry, and very bitter man. It's sad to see," Hannity said.

A representative for Romney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.

Romney, who is 76, announced in September that he would not be running for re-election in 2024.

"At the end of another term, I'd be in my mid-eighties. Frankly, it's time for a new generation of leaders," he said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

"Romney: A Reckoning" is set to be released on October 24.

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