Immediately after Russia launched its unprovoked attack on Ukraine under the guise of a “special military operation,” Fox began its disgraceful coverage of the invasion.
Across the network, hosts and guests defended Russian leader Vladimir Putin by baselessly claiming that perhaps he did have a reason to be threatened by the United States “tempting” Ukraine with NATO membership. The network also blamed the Biden administration’s “fear of Vladimir Putin” for what Fox hosts deemed a delay in military aid to Ukraine, and some network personalities even found a way to blame the administration’s climate policies for Russia’s actions. And after all the pontificating about how weak and ineffective the Biden administration looks in the face of the atrocities in Ukraine, Fox News hosts also had the audacity to compare the destruction from the invasion to the condition of urban cities in the U.S. and the southern border.
Here are some examples of Fox’s worst coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war:
Fox downplayed the invasion and defended Putin, urging “proper deference” to him
Some Fox hosts have downplayed or defended Putin’s actions in Ukraine, even implying that the Russian president had no choice but to invade his neighbor.
- During the March 9 edition of The Five, Gutfeld called on the world to show proper deference to Putin, saying, “He's already a war criminal, which means if he loses, he's dead. So they have to give him some kind of -- as Avril Haines said; she's the director of national intelligence -- you've got to give this guy proper deference. Because he feels that he never got that from the West or from Europe.”
- During the March 8 edition of The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld claimed the media was pumping out brutal images of the invasion in Ukraine in order to “create some kind of emotional response out of you” and that if you counter that narrative, you’re labeled “coldhearted.” Gutfeld went on to say he should be able to call the people who show images of the invasion “pro-war” and said, “Just because the news is pushing these videos at you doesn’t mean you’ve got to do something.”
- On February 22, the night before the invasion, Fox host Tucker Carlson defended Putin by suggesting that Americans were simply blindly following propaganda: “Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years?”
Fox attacked the Ukrainian government
Early on in Russia’s invasion, Fox prime-time hosts criticized Ukraine instead of the country invading it.
- On February 23, the night of Russia’s invasion, Fox host Laura Ingraham called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech imploring Russia to not invade a “pathetic display.”
- Fox host Tucker Carlson attacked Ukraine on February 23, saying Ukraine “is not a democracy” and calling it a “client state” of the United States.
- Retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, an Afghanistan war whistleblower, has repeatedly appeared on Fox to deflect blame away from Putin for the war, including during a February 25 appearance on Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria Bartiromo where Davis said Zelensky “subject[ed] his country to an invasion that he knows he can’t defend against.”
Fox hosts gave oxygen to Russian disinformation since the invasion
Fox News has unnecessarily given credence to Russian disinformation surrounding biological research labs in Ukraine over the past few weeks. Though American involvement with the labs has been public information since 2005, Fox News has feamongered about the research being done on pathogens and falsely implied the U.S. is funding biological weapons.
- On March 9, Fox host Tucker Carlson repeated the false claim that the United States was funding biological weapons labs in Ukraine based on a debunked conspiracy theory. “It’s not Russian disinformation,” Carlson concluded. During the monologue, Carlson claimed: “We are funding the creation of deadly pathogens so we can study them and prevent people from getting infected with them, maybe?” He also played a video from Russia’s defense ministry claiming Ukraine is working on biological weapons.
- After former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard released a video about the supposed biological labs in Ukraine, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called out her “treasonous” repetition of Russian propaganda. During the March 14 edition of his show, Carlson went on a tirade against Romney and insisted that Gabbard was speaking the truth, before calling into question the concern that Russia may seize these research facilities because Russia must already have similar equipment.
Fox insisted Vice President Kamala Harris couldn't handle the invasion
Right-wing media jump at the opportunity to attack the vice president for almost any reason, and Ukraine is no exception. Fox has used the invasion of Ukraine to double down on its hatred of Vice President Kamala Harris, calling her ineffective, saying “we’re not sending our best” to deal with this situation, while resorting to sexist dog whistles.
- During the March 14 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity and Fox News contributor Kayleigh McEnany slammed Harris for daring to laugh during a light-hearted exchange with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Hannity characterized it as “giggling on the world stage at all the inappropriate moments,” and McEnany called Harris “a total embarrassment.”
- When discussing Harris’ then-upcoming trip to Eastern Europe during the March 9 edition of The Five, co-host Geraldo Rivera said it’s “time now for her to shake off the mantle of ineffectiveness and really put her tushy on the line.” Rivera went on to call for the vice president to go into Ukraine in the middle of an invasion.
- On March 9, Fox host Jesse Watters slammed Biden’s decision to send Harris to Eastern Europe amid the invasion, insisting that “everybody in America knows we're not sending our best. Russia knows. Europe knows.” Watters went on to baselessly assert that even Harris knows “she’s in way over her head” and that sending the vice president is “an insult” to NATO allies.
- During the March 9 edition of The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham and Fox New contributor Charlie Hurt agreed it was “insane” to think sending Harris to Eastern Europe would reassure anyone.
- On March 3, Fox host Tucker Carlson hurled several sexist attacks at Harris, including dismissing her job as trotting “down to the blue room periodically to greet delegations of TikTok influencers” and creating public service announcements. Carlson said he assumed “serious people would be involved in fixing” the invasion, but “we knew that once Kamala Harris was involved, it couldn't really be that serious.”
Fox callously compared the invasion of Ukraine to immigration in the U.S.
Fox seems insistent on comparing the situation in Ukraine to immigration across the southern border of the United States. Fox host Tucker Carlson even called people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border invaders comparable to an army invading Ukraine.
- During a March 14 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson attempted to tie immigration at the southern border to the war in Ukraine. Carlson fearmongered about the increase in undocumented immigration before pointing out to his viewers that “your country is completely changing at exactly the moment they’re telling you to put a Ukrainian flag in your Twitter handle.” Carlson went on to insist that caring about your own country doesn’t make you “a mouthpiece for Putin.”
- During the February 28 edition of Fox News’ The Faulkner Focus, Fox’s Pete Hegseth claimed that at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference he heard people say, “Yes, what is happening in Ukraine is important. But it pales in comparison to the crime I see in my streets, to the wokeness I see in my culture, to the inflation I see at my pocket book, to the real border I care about, which is the southern border, which is wide open.”
- On the February 24 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Pete Hegseth used the Russian invasion of Ukraine to fearmonger about the situation at the southern border. Hegseth expressed frustration that “our southern border is wide open here in the United States of America. Yet we're obsessing over a border half a world away.”
- Carlson compared the invasion of Ukraine to immigration during the February 23 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight. The host claimed that “when Ukraine is invaded, it's a war crime. When the United States is invaded, it's equity.” Carlson went on to say the excuse of “equity” is why the Biden administration admitted “thousands of refugees into this country without vetting them.”
Fox blamed the Biden administration for Russia’s invasion
Fox hosts came up with all sorts of reasons to blame the Biden administration for Russia’s actions, from entertaining the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO to reviving debunked attacks on initiatives to address climate change, which have largely been blocked in the Senate. According to Fox News, these efforts encouraged Putin to invade Ukraine and such an invasion would never have happened if Donald Trump were still president. Tucker Carlson even went as far as to call Biden’s decision to ban Russian oil “the single most damaging thing any American president has ever done to this country and to the world.” Sometimes Fox hosts and guests didn’t even point to a specific policy.
- On March 9, Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway said the current situation in Ukraine was “brought on in part” by lack of a “coherent strategy” and the “confusing messaging of the Biden administration.” Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said either the Biden administration didn’t think the current Ukraine situation through or “a more cynical view was that they did think it through and what is playing out is exactly what they had aimed for.”
- On his February 25 show, Fox host Tucker Carlson simply called the invasion “a humiliating defeat” for Biden while also saying it was “wrong to use the deaths of people on the ground as a partisan cudgel,” because war is “a grave and profound thing.”
Fox’s Biden blame: The invasion would never have happened under Trump
- During the March 14 edition of The Five, Fox’s Martha MacCallum falsely claimed Democrats have been “very weak” in terms of providing weapons to Ukraine and insisted that ”President Trump sent them much more than anyone else had — that’s the bottom line.” She went on to claim Trump “strengthened NATO” by insisting all nations pay their fair share.
- On February 28, Fox News contributor and former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany argued, “Guess who did provide that lethal weaponry ... It was President Trump that did that. He gave the Ukrainians weaponry. President Biden was behind the eight ball.”
- Also on February 28, Trump’s former director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, said, “The question I am getting mostly here is, you know, would this have happened in a Trump administration? And the answer is we know the answer. It didn't happen in a Trump administration because there was credible deterrence.”
- On February 27, Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy claimed Russia invaded Ukraine because “we have allowed Russia to be empowered and enriched because of our energy policy.” Campos-Duffy then claimed, “Donald Trump knows exactly what to do.”
- During the February 25 edition of The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham said, “Four years ago, President Trump called out some of the biggest culprits in the whole — in the entire crisis unfolding now.” Conservative author Mike Pillsbury replied by saying, “President Trump approved 200 Javelin missiles to be sent to Ukraine,” claiming that sending such weapons had “an enormous effect on slowing down the Russian invasion.”
Fox’s Biden blame: Entertaining Ukraine’s request to join NATO
- During the March 15 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy said Russia made it very clear that “the red line was a neutrality for Ukraine, that they could not enter NATO,” before suggesting that the U.S. had provoked this invasion.
- On March 7, Fox host Jesse Watters said, “As far back as 2009, Biden was tempting Ukraine with the NATO offer.” Watters suggested the possibility of NATO membership for Ukraine was to blame for the invasion and claimed Biden “taunted” Putin.
- On February 27, Campos-Duffy also blamed the United States and “the West” for Russia's invasion, proclaiming “we have escalated this thing” by entertaining the idea of Ukraine choosing to join NATO.
Fox’s Biden blame: Climate policy provoked the invasion
- During the March 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity, former Secretary of State and current Fox News contributor Mike Pompeo said Americans will see more expensive prices because the Biden administration “put climate change ahead of protecting sovereignty and freedom in this place.” Pompeo went on to accuse Biden of allowing Putin to “dictate the pace and the response” to the invasion.
- During the March 6 edition of Fox & Friends Weekend, former Trump administration economic adviser Stephen Moore said that the war in Ukraine “is the direct consequence of a radical green-energy policy by the Biden administration that wasn't taking into account the consequences of America giving up its energy independence.” Co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy said she’s been “calling this the Green New Deal war” and agreed that it never should have happened.
- During the February 23 edition of Fox News’ The Faulkner Focus, guest host Martha MacCallum claimed that under Biden, the U.S. is no longer energy independent and as a result, “Russia is feeling powerful, no reason not to make the kind of moves that they’ve been making, right?” Guest Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, responded that under Biden the country has reduced its oil output and become “more dependent on Russian imports.”
Fox compared its favorite non-issues to the war in Ukraine
Fox hosts have been comparing atrocities in Ukraine to their favorite pet issues including critical race theory, Hunter Biden, and the supposed censorship of conservative voices in the U.S.
- During the March 15 edition of Jesse Watters Primetime, Watters speculated that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was “engineered” by President Joe Biden to distract people from scrutinizing his son Hunter Biden.
- During another segment in the March 15 edition of Jesse Watters Primetime, Watters and guest Tulsi Gabbard claimed that Russia's mass censorship and state-run propaganda efforts, including the recent shuttering of independent media outlets, is “not so different” from the supposed silencing of conservative voices by mainstream outlets and social media platforms in the U.S.
- During the March 15 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest Jerry Boykin absurdly compared the experiences of conscripted Russian solders fighting in Ukraine to the experiences of American students learning about so-called “critical race theory” in public schools. (American public schools don't actually teach critical race theory.) According to Boykin, “Moms are rising up over a cause here that is very close to them and that is the lives of their sons, which are primarily conscripts. The younger Russian soldiers are conscripts. And now they're coming home in body bags and this is having an impact.”