Echoing ‘Vladimir Putin’s talking points’ is putting Fox News at odds with ‘pro-Ukraine’ Republicans: conservative

During the George W. Bush years, the right-wing media, including Fox News, were quick to parrot neoconservative talking points. But Fox News has since taken a much more Trumpian turn, and its biggest star, Tucker Carlson, often promotes MAGA isolationism and a hypernationalist “America first” ideology. That isolationism, Never Trump conservative David Frum stresses in an article published by The Atlantic on January 28, is putting Fox News pundits at odds with more hawkish conservatives when it comes to Russia and Ukraine.

“Night after night,” Frum explains, “the host of the top-rated show on Fox News repeats Vladimir Putin’s talking points justifying aggression against Ukraine and opposing U.S. aid to that threatened sovereign country. Tucker Carlson’s influence is felt across right-wing social media, where it is amplified by figures such as Steve Bannon, Mike Cernovich, Glenn Greenwald and Mollie Hemingway. A highly visible coterie of socially conservative intellectuals also argues the case against helping Ukraine.”

Frum continues, “Meanwhile, day after day, Republican officeholders in the House and the Senate urge more support for Ukraine. That list includes not only traditionalists such as Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, but also, many legislators who got close to former President Donald Trump, such as Senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham.”

President Joe Biden has had a much more hawkish tone with Russia and President Vladimir Putin than Trump, and Frum notes that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has “backed the Biden Administration’s approach, as have the top Republicans on the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.”

“Broadly, Republican elected officials and the think tanks that advise them are staunchly pro-Ukraine; conservative talkers, especially on TV and social media, are varying degrees of anti-Ukraine,” Frum observes. “Russia-Ukraine is becoming a trial of strength, not only between Putin and NATO, but between different parts of the conservative world…. As powerful as Fox News messaging is, scenes of violence after Russian aggression sends Ukrainian refugees streaming westward to safety would be powerful too.”

Frum adds, “Americans are never eager to get involved in other people’s fights, but they remain deeply committed to a vision of their country as a force for good in the world.”

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