Mitt Romney criticizes Fox News and right-wing media for warping Republican Party

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. Sign up for the daily digest chronicling the evolving media landscape here.CNN — 

Mitt Romney, once the Republican Party’s standard-bearer, believes the right-wing media machine is at fault for much of the radicalization that has disfigured the GOP.

The Utah senator and one-time GOP presidential nominee unleashed a torrent of criticism aimed squarely at the information universe in which most of his party’s members consume their news, characterizing it in a new book as a dangerous propaganda factory detached from reality, poisoning the minds of its inhabitants.

Romney’s blunt assessment of the right-wing media apparatus comes in “Romney: A Reckoning,” the forthcoming book by McKay Coppins, a journalist with The Atlantic who was granted a series of interviews and unprecedented access to the outgoing senator.

“It’s hard to imagine,” Romney said in an excerpt of the book that Coppins shared with CNN, but Tucker Carlson is turning the GOP into “the pro-Russian, pro-authoritarian party.”

“And that’s not what it used to be,” Romney added.

In another excerpt, Romney expressed alarm at how prominent storylines in the right-wing media space demonized people that he believed should have been celebrated, such as an Olympian struggling with mental health.

“It’s almost like you take what is praiseworthy and of good report and you say, ‘Let’s attack that!’” Romney said.

His stinging analysis of the media consumed by Republicans is particularly noteworthy, given that he once harbored a close relationship with its top figures. But that relationship was shattered when Donald Trump ascended within the Republican Party, ushering in a new era defined by vicious attacks on political opponents, the smearing of the press, embracement of conspiracy theories, and a brazen assault on the truth.

The warped political environment made Romney, once the archetype of its traditional conservative values, an outcast to right-wing media figures, which after a brief civil war, wholly embraced Trump following his election. Speaking to Coppins, Romney expressed shock at how he personally became portrayed as a villain by the very same people who once championed him as a leader worthy of the highest office in the land.

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