Newsweek columnist David Frum called Republican leaders "cowards" and said the right-wing base has been lied to by a "conservative entertainment complex."
Frum, a conservative who served as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, made his provocative remarks Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He added that the GOP had been overrun by fear-mongers.
"The problem with Republican leaders is that they're cowards," Frum said, adding that the party's base of donors "went apocalyptic" in the last four years.
"Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex," he said.
"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough pressed him to "name names," which Frum skirted around, but he said there were "too many."
Frum said he interviewed protesters at Tea Party rallies and found that a majority was convinced that taxes increased and that the federal government spent more than $1 trillion on welfare each year. Both claims are false.
"The followers, the donors and the activists are so mistaken about the nature of the problems the country faces," Frum said.