Sean Hannity and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy got into a tense discussion about Israel Thursday after the Fox News host asked the 2024 hopeful to defend comments he made on the topic in a recent interview with Tucker Carlson.
Ramaswamy accused Republicans of having “selective moral outrage” at the terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, and claimed that some who advocate a more forceful military response are swayed by financial incentives.
“The selective nature of ignoring certain other conflicts—while even more importantly ignoring the interests of the U.S. right here at home—is what irritates the heck out of me, out of the politicians in both parties,” he told the former Fox News host on Monday, providing the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan as one example.
“It is shameful, and I think that there are, frankly, financial and corrupting influences that lead them exactly to speak the way they do. That’s just the hard truth.”
“You’re saying that her concern for Israel is driven by financial and a corrupting influence. And your explanation that there is a disproportionate focus on rape, kidnapping and murder of the Jewish people in this attack and, your quote, ‘That there are, frankly, financial and corrupting influences that lead them exactly to speak the way they do,” Hannity said, before Ramaswamy jumped in.
“Sean, that is a shameful mischaracterization,” he said, prompting a testy response from the Fox host.
“Hey Vivek, stop right now,” he said. “I’ll read the exact—you do this in every single interview: You say stuff and then you deny it. You deny your own words. So, you know, why don’t you just own what you say and stand by it and stop playing these games?”
“Sean, I am owning what I say. I’m telling you,” Ramaswamy insisted.
The level of tension between Hannity and the biotech entrepreneur, whom Fox News seemingly trumpeted as the GOP’s best hope not too long ago, would only rise.
After several minutes, Ramaswamy recalled fondly his time speaking with Carlson while throwing in a dig at his current interviewer.
“One of the things about that interview with Tucker is we were able to have a thoughtful conversation and go deep into issues rather than this kind of political gotcha,” he said.
Hannity, thoroughly displeased by this point, returned to one of his earlier criticisms of Ramaswamy.
“Here’s your problem: You go on these shows, people quote your exact words, and you deny your own words!” he said, perhaps in reference to Ramaswamy’s debunked claim on CNN in August that he was misquoted by The Atlantic when discussing 9/11. “And I’m saying if you’re going to be a presidential candidate… either own it or pull it back!”
Ramaswamy even accused Hannity, who he said has for years “been laughing about the fake news media,” of now “buying the mainstream media narrative when you know how corrupt it is.”
“Excuse me! I am quoting your exact words!” Hannity exclaimed, as some in the Fox News studio audience began to call out, perhaps to put an end to the interview.
Soon after, Ramaswamy was taken off the screen.