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Jennifer Griffin keeps fact-checking her Fox News colleagues on Ukraine

The national security correspondent has pushed back on comments made by Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy, Harris Faulkner and other hosts.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin has corrected several of her colleagues' assertions while on-air. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin has been pulling double duty lately.

Much like her peers at other news outfits, the national security correspondent has reported live from the Pentagon, telling viewers what U.S. officials were thinking and doing as Russia launched its long-feared assault on Ukraine this week.

But, Griffin has also used her reporting appearances on Fox News programs to push back on some of the assertions made by her colleagues, particularly those who host opinion programs. In doing so, Griffin has performed an exercise in real-time, intra-network fact-checking that is unusual on a television news channel, and particularly at Fox News, which has long valued internal harmony.

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The most noticeable back-and-forth occurred when Griffin appeared on “The Faulkner Focus” Thursday morning to explain U.S. strategy: first warning Russia against invading its smaller neighbor, then imposing “shock and awe” sanctions after it launched a widespread attack on Ukraine this week.

“Now comes the part where they will squeeze Russia,” Griffin told the host, Harris Faulkner. “You saw that the Russian stock market fell by half today.”

“Yeah, have you seen ours?” Faulkner immediately retorted. (U.S. markets were diving at the time, though they mostly recovered later in the day.) “We’ve had general after general tell us that the sanctions were not going to work. … When you say, ‘We saw this coming. They saw this coming,’ I’m just wondering why that was still the only strategy deployed.”

“Well, Harris, let me, let me, let me, I need to follow up on that,” Griffin interjected. When Faulkner suggested that the U.S. could have used other tactics to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression, possibly involving NATO, Griffin replied that sending troops to the area would have merely given Putin “a pretext” to invade.

Faulkner finally moved on from the exchange and ended the segment by thanking her for her “excellent reporting.”

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Griffin’s fans inside and outside the network aren’t surprised by her commitment to factual reporting. She joined the network as a Jerusalem-based correspondent in 1999 and has remained a linchpin of Fox’s news division even as the network’s opinion hosts have gained greater influence in recent years.

“If she reports something on air, it’s because she’s done hard work off-camera to determine the facts of the matter and present what’s true,” said Stephen Hayes, who recently resigned from his role as a Fox News contributor and now works for NBC News. “I suspect she has little patience with Biden-focused conspiracies or commentary that pretends these challenges started in January 2021.”

That much is evident from the clips.

Late last week, the hosts of Fox’s popular show “The Five” were not yet convinced by U.S. intelligence reports that Putin had decided to invade. Panelist Greg Gutfeld went so far as to claim that President Biden and his administration had “manufactured” the Ukraine crisis for partisan purposes.

Griffin pushed back hard. “First of all, I need to level-set with the conversation I’ve just been listening to,” she said. “What we are witnessing right now is not something that just changed in the last 24 hours … This is something we’ve been watching [for at least two weeks].”

Likewise, when Gutfeld and Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery asserted during the show that Biden’s team was hyping the threat of war to distract from the political trouble at home, Griffin was ready with facts in hand.

“Right now, every American should be watching this and knowing that this is deadly serious,” she said. “This is not some wag-the-dog situation.”

On Monday, Griffin appeared on the 9 p.m. program hosted by Sean Hannity and pushed back on his earlier comments about the Biden administration’s culpability. “Sean, how we got to this point is a long story and it predates the Biden administration,” she said. “It goes back and includes mistakes made by every U.S. president since the Soviet Union fell apart.”

And on Thursday morning, Griffin pushed back when “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy said that economic sanctions “have not worked.” She argued that it’s too soon to make that conclusion. (Biden announced additional sanctions on Thursday afternoon.)

Griffin’s role at the network has come into sharper focus since some recent departures of prominent Fox News journalists, including Chris Wallace’s abrupt exit in December to take a job at rival network CNN, and the 2019 resignation of Shepard Smith, who was also known to fact-check his colleagues, sometimes ruffling feathers in the process.

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Griffin is popular with other employees in Fox’s news division, who came to her defense in 2020, when then-President Trump called for her to be fired after she confirmed aspects of a damaging report about him in the Atlantic. A news division employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly commended her work this week and said that Griffin has the respect and support of her newsroom colleagues.

“Jennifer is a straight arrow with real experience,” said former Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, a longtime colleague. “She reports facts and does not tell the viewer what to think. What more could you possibly want in a journalist?”

A Fox News spokesperson said on Friday that the network is “incredibly proud of Jennifer Griffin and her stellar reporting, as well as all of our journalists and talent covering this story across our platforms.”

Despite her clash with Faulkner, Griffin was back on her show on Friday morning with her latest reporting from the Pentagon.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russia claimed to have seized control of Soledar, a heavily contested salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged recently, but a Ukrainian military official maintained that the battle was not yet over. The U.S. and Germany are sending tanks to Ukraine.

Russia’s Gamble: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior U.S., Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

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