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Fox News sweats doing cleanup work after Trump's Putin-summit mess

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at Helsinki summit press conference (Photo: Associated Press)

President Trump’s grotesque summit press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin drew widespread condemnation from American citizens, journalists, and a disgracefully few Republicans. But the corporate lips of Fox News remain affixed to Trump’s backside.

On Monday night, Tucker Carlson led off Fox’s primetime schedule doing his usual routine — distraction via what-about-ism. The Trump-Putin summit occurred mere hours after Robert Mueller’s investigation indicted a dozen Russians with interfering with the 2016 election. After Republicans ranging from Newt Gingrich to Paul Ryan said that Trump was shockingly deferential to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of this, Carlson said, “Ask Paul Ryan, does he think Saudi Arabia shares our interests?” Later, Carlson asked, “Is Russia a greater threat than China?” In other words, there are other bad actors on the world stage, so get off Trump’s back.

Carlson, Sean Hannity, and the other primetime host, Laura Ingraham, tried to shift the news to a theme more familiar to their viewers: The media is being mean to President Trump. “Media in Meltdown After Putin Summit” and “CNN Considers Trump Impeachment After Summit” were just a couple of chyrons blasting beneath Fox talking-heads. Hannity, during his show, called much of the coverage of Russian election interference a “total left-wing conspiracy” and cooed at Trump during their 9 p.m. interview, “You were verrrry strong at the end of that press conference.”

Clearly, Fox felt something more needed to be done, as condemnation of Trump continues to pour in from all sides. So Tuesday morning on Fox & Friends, the president’s most fawning TV fans began a heroic effort at damage control. Brian Kilmeade assured viewers while referring to Trump’s slavish praise of Putin: “It’s easily correctable from the president’s perspective. No one’s perfect, especially in 10 intense days of summits and everything on his plate.” “A lot of people are confused,” said Steve Doocy, as though Trump should be no better informed about world politics than your average Fox viewer. Doocy hastened to add, “I’m not saying the president is confused about the Russia-collusion thing. There is a big difference between collusion and the meddling.” Er, no one was talking about collusion, Steve.

Abby Huntsman was on the “curvy couch” because the usual co-host, Ainsley Earhardt, was winging back to the States from Helsinki, where she co-anchored the summit coverage with cretinously naive observations about Putin and Russia. Huntsman directed viewers not to Trump but to the interview Fox News’s Chris Wallace did with Putin on Monday — there, she said, was a tough American response to Russia.

See? Nothing to worry about, America: Our president lacks a spine when dealing with Russia, but Fox News has a guy who can play tough when it’s necessary. The lovefest will continue: Tucker Carlson’s Trump interview airs tonight.

Fox & Friends airs weekdays at 6 a.m. on Fox News. Tucker Carlson Tonight airs weeknights at 8 p.m. on Fox News.

Watch: Hannity praises Trump for Putin summit:

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