Après Helsinki, le déluge: Right-wing media claim Trump’s glad-handing of Putin is the only alternative to war

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

During a July 16 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, and later in interviews, President Donald Trump repeatedly denied that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump later read a scripted statement walking back his original denials, only to later add that the Russians are not interfering in the upcoming elections (they are). 

Some in right-wing media were ready to clean up the president’s embarrassing disaster of a press conference by suggesting that critics denouncing his obvious ineptitude and suspicious attachment to Putin are merely cheering for “war with Russia.”

  • Fox contributor Tomi Lahren: “Do you want this president to wage war against Russia because Hillary Clinton lost the election?” 
  • Fox host Jeanine Pirro: “The job of the president right now is to make sure that the United States is not going to war with an enemy, a clear enemy, who has missiles pointing at us.”
  • Breitbart: “Democrats, establishment media push war with Russia"
  • Fox host Tucker Carlson: “The Cold War is over; the world has changed. It is time to rethink America's alliances and to act in our own interest for once. Russia is not a close friend of the United States. But the question is why should we consider them a mortal enemy?”  
  • Tucker Carlson Tonight guest Stephen Cohen: “We are in a new Cold War” and “President Trump did not have a choice” but to do “his duty to avoid war with Russia.” 
  • Cohen: “I want my president to do what every other president has done -- sit with the head of the other nuclear superpower and walk back the conflicts that could lead to war.”
  • Right-wing pundit Pat Buchanan: The Helsinki summit ensured that “there will be no Cold War II.”
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham: “Many on the right … want to keep the Cold War mentality going. … They don’t like the idea that we have a Republican president reaching out” to find common ground. 
  • FoxNews.com op-ed: “The Cold War never really ended -- there was just a brief intermission,” so Trump is “work[ing] to improve relations with Russia.”
  • Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway on Fox & Friends: “Presidents have a duty to avoid war with Russia.”
  • The Gateway Pundit complained that non-president Hillary Clinton’s 2016 “threat of war did not make any headlines.”