Fox News did not ride to the president’s rescue after the summit, joining a bipartisan scrum of lawmakers and political commentators who condemned Trump’s comments alongside the Russian leader.
It was a stunning, if temporary, turn for Trump’s preferred network. He deliberately takes Fox News’s questions over CNN’s, speaks regularly by phone with Fox host Sean Hannity and has turned “Fox & Friends” into a vehicle for his agenda and talking points.
Fox News hosts have been known to speak directly to him — an audience of one.
But anchors on Fox and its sister network, Fox Business, were moved to sharply criticize Trump’s asides blaming his own country for the tension in the United States' relationship with Russia and his remarks casting doubt on the U.S. intelligence community's assessments of Russian election interference.
Cavuto, a host on Fox Business and Fox News, blasted Trump in a segment in which he directly addressed the president.
“On foreign soil at least, you might consider praising our enemies less,” Cavuto said.
“What worries me about you, Mr. President, is you seem to say only good things about your enemies, our enemies, and to hell with your friends, our friends,” Cavuto added, in reference to Trump calling the European Union a U.S. “foe” and his criticisms of the NATO alliance.
The Russian aggression in Ukraine, the threats to Russian journalists, and other nefarious actions that have been attributed to Putin's government should give Trump pause in how he views a relationship with the Russian leader, Cavuto said.
The summit “set us back a lot,” Cavuto added.
On Tuesday, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo wondered whether the summit was an inflection point for the loyalties among administration officials.
“There are questions that we could see resignations. We’ll see about that; we’ll see how long-lasting this is,” Bartiromo said during a discussion with anchor Dagen McDowell. “It was probably the low point of the presidency so far. What’s more important obviously is the deals that he can do with Russia.”
On Monday, Trump had said on Twitter that “our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”
It incensed “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade.
“That’s by far the most ridiculous tweet of late, and that is insulting to past administrations. He can’t be saying that going into the Russian summit,” Kilmeade said.
On Tuesday, after Trump fired back at what he called a “Fake News” response to the summit, the “Fox & Friends” hosts agreed that the president seems unable to separate allegations of campaign collusion with Russia from the Kremlin's mission to disrupt the 2016 election.
“Russia’s goal was to upend our electoral process. They hate democracy,” the hosts said, ticking off names of prominent and staunch Republicans who have said there is evidence of Russian election interference, including Newt Gingrich. “Pretty much everyone and their brother, except Vladimir Putin, knows that there was meddling,” cohost Steve Doocy said.
Later on Tuesday, Trump sought to control damage from his actions in Helsinki, saying he accepted the intelligence community’s findings about Russian meddling.
Trump had been “taking it on the chin” from Republicans and Democrats alike, Fox’s Roberts said on Monday.
Trump’s mission was to appear diplomatic, the White House correspondent said, “but there is a growing consensus across the land that tonight the president threw the United States under the bus.”
However, not everyone at Fox News criticized Trump and the summit.
“You were very strong at the end of that news conference,” Hannity told Trump in an interview after the news conference with Putin.
This story incorrectly attributed a quote to Brian Kilmeade. It has been updated.
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