The first GOP debate is tonight. If the moderators and the other candidates do their jobs, one topic will be Vivek Ramaswamy’s recent comments about September 11.
Ramaswamy is in the midst of a controversy entirely of his own making, and it’s irritating on a few different levels. He’s been playing footsie with 9/11 trutherism, the idea that 9/11 was an inside job. And I have to say it’s just deeply offensive at a number of levels, not to mention disrespectful to the families of the victims. We know who’s behind the 9/11 attacks, and it was not the U.S. government.
When confronted with this odd decision, he denied that he had done it and then blamed the dishonest media. Well, that does not work when it is not actually the media’s fault and when the press has not actually been dishonest. It also undermines other legitimate accusations of media dishonesty when a politician throws that term around just to cover his own absurd missteps. Yes, I’m aware he’s not the only politician to do this. But Ramaswamy’s whole rap is: I’m the one based in facts and truth. Great, let’s have some.
The Beginning of the Controversy
Here’s what happened. On August 1, BlazeTV’s Alex Stein asked Ramaswamy a question about September 11 during a rapid fire exchange:
Stein: Okay, 9/11 inside job or exactly what the government tells us?
Ramaswamy: I don’t believe the government has told us the truth. Again, I’m driven by evidence and data. What I’ve seen in the last several years is we have to be skeptical of what the government does tell us. I haven’t seen evidence to the contrary. But do I believe everything the government told us about it? Absolutely not. Do I believe the 9/11 commission? Absolutely not.
You see what happened there? It was a pander to someone he knew was looking for a little conspiratorial red meat. But he admits in that clip that, at least as of that date, he had seen no evidence that the government failed to tell us the full truth on 9/11. The Wall Street Journal, Mike Pence, and many others hit him for not clearly denouncing the suggestion that 9/11 was an inside job and for instead fueling fire about a government cover up.
By August 9, Ramaswamy thought it was time to take to X (formerly known as Twitter). He dismissed this exchange as having been with “a comedian podcaster.” Having finally now done some homework on 9/11, Ramaswamy went on to claim:
“I wasn’t referring to the baseless theories about controlled demolitions at buildings around the World Trade Center, but the very real possibility supported by recently declassified documents that al-[Qaeda]’s attack was undertaken with support from Saudi intelligence officials,” he wrote, in part, on X.
Oh, really? You are referring to the FBI report declassified 2021? Weird, because you told Stein, “I have not seen any evidence of this, but I don’t believe everything the government told us about 9/11.” You told him you hadn’t seen any evidence. Why didn’t you mention the Saudi report? I thought you hadn’t seen any evidence. Which is it?
Look, the whole thing stuck in my craw. I don’t like seeing somebody like Ramaswamy come in and turn into your classic politician who just lies. Just f-cking own it. You screwed up. It was a dumbass thing to say. Abide by your ‘truth brand’ and own it.
The Atlantic Article
The problem here for Ramaswamy is, unbeknownst to the rest of us, this wasn’t the first time he had done this. Weeks before he spoke with Stein, he had given an interview to The Atlantic and a reporter named John Hendrickson. There too he pushed a form of 9/11 trutherism, making comments that seem to suggest 9/11 was an inside job. Nothing about the Saudis is in there either, by the way.
To Hendrickson, Ramaswamy volunteered that it’s totally legitimate for Americans to just ask how many U.S. agents were on the planes that brought down the World Trade Center:
“I think it is legitimate to say how many police, how many federal agents, were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers. Maybe the answer is zero. It probably is zero for all I know, right? I have no reason to think it was anything other than zero. But if we are doing a comprehensive assessment of what happened on 9/11, we have a 9/11 commission, absolutely that should be an answer the public knows the answer to.”– Vivek Ramaswamy in The Atlantic
Why is that a legitimate question? What is he saying? I thought we weren’t pushing “baseless theories.” The Atlantic piece, including those comments, hit on Monday and the blowback was almost immediate. The comments caught fire online with many conservatives and liberals criticizing them as bizarre conspiracy crap pandering nonsense.
Ramaswamy Doubles Down on CNN
That same night, Ramaswamy went on CNN with Kaitlan Collins. The proper move here was obvious. He should have said: “Kaitlan, I should have been more careful in commenting on something that is still an open wound for many Americans. This was no way to handle such a delicate, painful topic involving the murder of 3,000 Americans.” Nope. The new approach is deny the remarks were even made and also defend them:
“It’s funny. I mean, The Atlantic is playing the same game as CNN. It’s funny. What I said is, on January 6, I do believe that there were many federal agents in the field and we deserve to know who they are. On 9/11, what I’ve said is that the government lied. And this is incontrovertible evidence, Kaitlan. The government lied about Saudi Arabia’s involvement…
I can tell you the quote is wrong actually. I actually asked – this just lifting the curtain on how media works. Again, I asked that reporter to send the recording because it was on the record. He refused to do it. We had a free-flowing conversation. The truth is, there are lies the government us told about 9/11. But it’s not the ones that somebody put in my mouth. It’s the one that I articulated, which is that Saudi Arabia, absolutely, their intelligence was involved in 9/11.”– Vivek Ramaswamy on CNN
Okay, so the quote is wrong. He says so explicitly. This is all media games by CNN and The Atlantic, according to Ramaswamy. Except it’s not wrong. It’s exact. And The Atlantic has since released the audio tape so we can hear it for ourselves. It’s exactly as the outlet said it was.
Now Ramaswamy is tweeting about the CNN reporter being a “petulant teenager.”
It’s true that Collins has a grating style, and she’s got about as much warmth as the Nancy Pelosi ice cream collection. But her demeanor was not the problem here. His dishonesty was.
‘It Was Wrong’
It was wrong for the Democrats to compare the January 6 attacks to September 11. It was outrageous, and we called them out on it repeatedly. But it is also wrong of Ramaswamy to use baseless, bullshit conspiracy theories about federal agents on the 9/11 planes to make his case about government dishonesty.
There are certain things most of us in this country still hold in reverence. September 11 is one of them. Politicians on the left and right have no business using the murder of 3,000 Americans to build your brand as an alleged warrior of truth. Period.
You can check out Megyn’s full analysis by tuning in to episode 613 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.