Two Fox News anchors interviewing the Finnish ambassador to the United States on Thursday seemed to be trying to discourage the country from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization following Finland’s announcement that it will pursue membership. The Fox interview, during which the anchors repeatedly suggested the action will have only negative consequences for Finland, follows years of pro-Russia coverage by Fox, which continued even after Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Two weeks after Russia launched its brutal invasion of Ukraine in February, Finland announced that it would review its security policy regarding joining NATO. Public support in Finland for joining NATO has more than tripled to 76% following the Russian invasion. Finland’s security review, which it published in mid-April, stated that due to Russia’s aggressive actions, “the security situation in Europe and in Finland is more serious and more difficult to predict than at any time since the Cold War.”
The document also laid out multiple ways in which Russia had destabilized the security environment for Finland and discussed its disregard for diplomacy in favor of war. It also explained that Russia had “added Finland and all other EU Member States to the list of ‘unfriendly countries.’” From Finland’s security review:
The war against Ukraine shows even more clearly that the use of force is a key part of Russia’s range of instruments and that it is ready to use extensive military force against civilian targets to pursue its political goals. Russia has shown that it can also use chemical weapons.
The UN Charter prohibits all forms of threat of force. Russia has stated that it could use nuclear weapons in a situation where it feels that its existence is threatened. Since the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia has repeatedly highlighted its preparedness to use nuclear weapons. By using threatening rhetoric on nuclear weapons, Russia is seeking to prevent foreign countries from interfering with its actions. This is in conflict with the Joint Statement by the Five Nuclear-Weapon States, including Russia, in January 2022, which states that nuclear weapons should serve only defensive purposes and that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has long-term effects on the security environment in Europe and Finland’s neighbouring areas. Russia has shown that it does not respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and it has violated the UN Charter and breached the European security order.
Clearly, the Finnish government views Russia as a greater security threat today than at any point in recent history. Yet, during a May 12 interview with Finnish Ambassador Mikko Hautala, the two Fox anchors conducting the interview pushed Russian government propaganda portraying Finland as a threat to Russia’s security. They pressed the ambassador on whether Finland was “prepared to face the wrath” of Russia, and whether it was prepared to sacrifice its “good relationship” with Russia over joining NATO, never mentioning that Russia has already soured that relationship. They also quoted several threats Russia made against Finland for considering joining NATO, giving the impression that willingly joining the mutual-defense alliance would be disastrous. (In fact, Russia had been threatening Finland since February, prior to the Finnish government’s public consideration of joining NATO, and Finland has long had a strong military partnership with NATO.)
Fox’s negative portrayal of joining NATO follows years of pro-Russian commentary by the outlet’s on-air talent. The network has denigrated Ukraine’s leadership and defended Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Across the spectrum of its “news” and opinion programming, Fox pushed pro-Russia talking points during every day of the first month of the invasion.
Fox News’ biased coverage of Russia’s invasion has even been praised by Russian state media and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Perhaps this latest interview with Ambassador Hautala will earn Fox continued praise from the Kremlin.