But days earlier, Bartiromo had seemed confident the Biden administration was inflating the threat of Russian aggression to distract from bad political news at home — specifically, a petition filed by Special Counsel John Durham who has was described by many Fox News hosts as a huge scandal.
“Was it a ruse? she asked her audience on Wednesday last week. “Was this all an effort to distract everyone from what Hillary Clinton did and what we know to be a complete hoax on this Russia investigation?”
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld also said late last week that “there’s something going on here that feels very, very fabricated.”
On Thursday, after US warnings about Russia’s military plans proved accurate, Fox contributor Charles Hurt argued it was still unclear why Americans should care. And that, he said, was also the fault of the president. Biden “has failed to demonstrate that this is a vital interest of the United States,” he said. “The president is entirely out of bluff.”
“You’re right,” replied host Pete Hegseth. “He did not argue for the national security implications.”
Hurt also offered a line of argument that has been popular in conservative media: “There’s a reason this hasn’t happened under the Trump administration.”
Indeed, Fox News host Laura Ingraham had interviewed the former president on her 10 p.m. show on Wednesday, on the brink of Russian strikes. She told Trump that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made “a pathetic display” when he pleaded with Russian President Vladimir Putin not to invade his country.
“How would you have avoided this conflict? Ingraham asked Trump. The 45th president spoke about his close relationship with Putin and denounced the “weakness” of the Biden administration.
Across the right-wing media spectrum, the crisis in Europe has proved an opportunity for talking heads to compare leaders – sometimes concluding that Putin is the most impressive.
“They have a president, and we don’t,” former Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani told the conservative Newsmax network Wednesday night. “Putin is prepared for this. Our incompetent [president] is not prepared for it. »
“Biden’s presidency has made America weaker for Putin,” Kyle Smith said in a column published by the New York Post on Wednesday night.
Clay Travis, a conservative radio host, said Thursday that “America has spent decades fetishizing soft, cuddly emotional power,” which Putin does not respect. “That’s the result,” he said, adding that “a lack of strength will be exploited by those who respect only strength.”
“Of course we should support Ukraine,” said conservative pundit Ben Shapiro. said on Twitter. “Ukraine is a democracy that seeks to ally itself with the West. Putin is a rogue dictator seeking to rebuild an empire on the back of pure aggression while simultaneously allying himself with China and Iran.
But readers of the influential Shapiro-founded online news site, the Daily Wire, had a different opinion: An article published Thursday morning trumpeted a plea from Ronny Jackson, a former White House doctor turned member of the Texas Republican Congress, for Biden to pass a cognitive exam during the invasion.
“This is all a scam. It’s a total and complete scam,” said Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former White House adviser. said on his podcast before the Russian strikes, defending Putin as “anti-awakening”.
Other conservative media have chosen to ignore or downplay the crisis. One America News spent most of Thursday morning airing extended live coverage of the Conservative Political Action Conference, with only brief mentions of Ukraine.
Fox’s news division took a more conventional journalistic approach. Reporters and network news anchors widely acknowledged the severity of Russia’s incursion, which anchor Bret Baier called Wednesday night “the darkest hour for Europe since World War II.” National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin has consistently backed the Biden administration’s warnings about Russia’s intent, going so far as to rebuke some colleagues’ dismissive comments.
Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine escalated last night, and some of Fox’s biggest personalities have yet to get a chance to appear on their evening shows.
Tucker Carlson, the network’s most-watched host, has used his prime-time show in recent days to suggest that Putin is being unfairly victimized and has argued since the dispute began that Americans shouldn’t be worried about it. happening in Ukraine, guided by its anti-interventionist leanings.
Coincidentally, it fell to Sean Hannity, Fox News’ prime-time opinion anchor, to break the news of the planned Russian military assault to the network’s audience on Wednesday night.
His guest, former White House press secretary and Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer, blamed Russia. “Don’t get me wrong, the biggest problem here is Vladimir Putin. Despite Joe Biden’s weakness and the mistakes Joe Biden made that emboldened Vladimir Putin, the first person all Americans must blame is Putin.
Hannity, seemingly taken aback, replied, “Well, I think, obviously, it has to go with him.”
Paul Farhi contributed to this report.