Fox News host suggests the US ‘provoked’ Russia into invading Ukraine

Rachel Campos-Duffy was contradicted by co-host when she suggested ruling out Ukrainian membership of Nato could have averted Russian invasion

Andrew Naughtie
Tuesday 15 March 2022 15:33 GMT
Fox and Friends hosts discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine
Fox and Friends hosts discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine (Fox News)

A Fox News host has further scrambled her network’s mixed messages about the conflict in Ukraine by raising the argument that the conflict is in fact the west’s fault.

While co-hosting Fox and Friends, Rachel Campos-Duffy mused that the US should have “never provoked” Russia by allowing the prospect of Ukrainian membership of Nato.

“They made very clear that there was a red line,” she said. “The red line was a neutrality for Ukraine, that they could not enter Nato.” (Ukraine is still not a Nato member.) “And in the end, if they get this peace agreement … that’s probably going to end up being the case anyway.”

One of Campos-Duffy’s co-hosts, Brian Kilmeade, shook his head while she spoke and cut in to contradict her.

“I tell you what,” he said, “you can never give in to what Russia wants other nations to do. They’re going to decide whether you’re going into Nato or you’re going into the European Union when you’re a European society that wants that?”

Campos-Duffy was undeterred. Citing the 19th century Monroe Doctrine and saying that “we would be very concerned about this kind of action in our hemisphere”, she diagnosed that the main problem in the conflict is in fact China.

“We’ve created a bigger bloc. China and Russia together. This is why our policymakers aren’t thinking long-term. Provoking this war has brought our two enemies closer together.”

One again, a visibly uncomfortable Kilmeade took a different line: “We didn’t provoke a war,” he said to her while she talked. “They provoked a war. They can’t make a red line on other countries, Rachel! It’s not up to them to make a red line on other countries!”

Recounting how the advance of democracy in Ukraine with the US’s blessing and assistance had infuriated its authoritarian neighbour, he asked: “Why should a democracy give up because Vladimir Putin’s a lunatic?”

Fox News has been rocked this week by the news that one of its journalists, Benjamin Hall, has been seriously injured and hospitalised in Ukraine while reporting on the conflict. On Tuesday morning it was revealed that the cameraman working with him, Pierre Zakrzewski, had died of his wounds.

However, some of the network’s hosts continue to promote false and misleading narratives about the conflict that increasingly flatter the Kremlin’s version of events, even as the war and Vladimir Putin prove extremely unpopular among Americans.

The most controversial host is Tucker Carlson, whose show is reliably among the most-watched pundit on cable news. Having often questioned before the conflict why anyone in the US should root for Ukraine (a well-established American ally) against Russia (an authoritarian adversary), he has lately helped introduce a conspiracy theory about US-funded and operated biolabs in Ukraine that have supposedly been developing bioweapons.

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