“There is an avalanche of you-know-what rolling downhill at warp speed toward @realDonaldTrump over this summit. Republicans – even the DNI are throwing bucketsful at him,” tweeted Fox’s chief White House correspondent John Roberts.
Fox & Friends Weekend host Abby Huntsman, who is the daughter of Russian Ambassador Jon Huntsman, tweeted, “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”
On air, things were much more even-keeled, but were still far from Fox’s standard laudatory fare. Most of the personalities on air seemed bewildered, like host Bret Baier, who called the performance “surreal.”
Over on the Fox Business Network, the pundits might as well have been working for MSNBC.
Host Neil Cavuto called Trump’s press conference “disgusting.”
Trish Regan, his co-host, appeared flustered, similar to Cooper’s appearance. “He should have defended us,” Regan said. “He should have defended his own intelligence community.”
She tweeted that it was a ” horrible performance” and ” unpatriotic.” Retired Army General Jack Keane, a Fox national-security analyst, told Regan it was “stunning and disappointing.”
“I don’t think you get a second chance to make a good first impression at a stage and venue like this,” Cavuto added. “I just found that Vladimir Putin appeared to run circles around the president and get him to buy … every single sneaky lie and misstatement he has made on this matter.”
Fox News, known for the conservative bent of its opinion hosts, has been particularly friendly to the Trump administration. Critics have alleged that Fox’s pro-Trump bias has undermined the network’s credibility during this administration.
And there was some run-of-the-mill Trump defense from Fox personalities. Some played the both-sides argument, like Media Buzz host Howard Kurtz.
“It’s troubling that Trump wouldn’t embrace his own intel agencies’ findings on Russian meddling against the ‘strong & powerful’ Putin denials,” Kurtz tweeted. “Liberal commentators denouncing him as Neville Chamberlain, calling for censure & impeachment, also going over the top against Trump.”
Trump, ever obsessed with cable TV, has consistently favored Fox over its rivals. The president rarely does non-Fox interviews, though administration officials regularly appear across networks. Trump has consistently hired cable personalities for his administration, the latest being former Fox co-president Bill Shine as his communications director. Shine resigned from Fox after allegedly covering up sexual-harassment scandals at the network.
Only Sean Hannity, an unabashed friend and late-night confidant of Trump, played to form Monday on Fox. On his radio show, Hannity railed against conservative critics of Trump.
“I’m watching all of these Republicans and I’m thinking none of them, NONE OF THEM, have the ability to lead anything,” Hannity said.
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Scott Nover is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.