The backlash to President Donald Trump’s astonishing press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin has been overwhelmingly fierce and swift. “Nothing short of treasonous,” former CIA Director John Brennan said on Twitter. “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” Sen. John McCain said in a blistering statement.
Even on Fox News, a handful of hosts and commentators offered rare criticisms of the president after he openly sided with Russia over his own intelligence community and law enforcement agencies.
No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.
— Abby Huntsman (@HuntsmanAbby) July 16, 2018
Neil Cavuto of Fox Business calls Trump's press conference "disgusting", "That sets us back a lot." pic.twitter.com/R2ZIjyFyPR
— Axios (@axios) July 16, 2018
But any significance of Fox News personalities daring to speak out against Trump was easily eclipsed by loyal acolytes Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, who each landed interviews with the president following his meeting with Putin. Unsurprisingly, Fox was the only network to be granted interviews.
Speaking with Trump in Helsinki shortly after the summit wrapped up, Hannity started his interview by lavishing praise on the president’s performance. “You were very strong at the end of that press conference,” Hannity said, referring to the portion of Monday’s press conference during which Trump invoked one of his favorite conspiracy theories against Hillary Clinton. “You said, ‘Where are the servers?'”
Trump nodded in agreement and repeated Putin’s denial of Russian interference. “They have no information on Trump,” he added.
Notably absent from Hannity’s questions was any mention of the nearly universal criticisms of Trump’s remarks. Instead he echoed Trump’s tweet leading up to Monday’s summit, predicting that “no matter how well I do at the Summit,” the media would go out of its way to find some way to criticize the meeting with Putin. “If I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough,” Trump had tweeted.
The interview continued with Trump and Hannity amplifying conspiracy theories about Peter Strzok, the FBI agent at the center of the Russia investigation, and the “13 angry Democrats” in the special counsel probe.
Tucker Carlson, whose interview with the president will air Tuesday evening, spent Monday with Stephen Cohen, an NYU professor of Russian studies and contributor to The Nation. Cohen characterized the shocked and negative reaction to Trump’s performance as “mob violence.” That segment aired with the news ticker “MEDIA IN MELTDOWN MODE AFTER PUTIN SUMMIT.”
“They seem to hate or resent the idea that Trump is president that they’ve lost all sense of national security,” Cohen said. Carlson further expanded this line of reasoning by accusing Democrat and Republican leaders of trying to seek increased conflict with Russia.
In another segment, Carlson did acknowledge there was foreign interference in US elections. He claimed that Mexico has interfered into US elections with more success than Russia. How? By “packing our electorate,” he announced. Stay tuned for even more obsequiousness tonight.
Tucker Carlson says that Mexico has been more successful at interfering in US elections and does it more routinely than Russia by "packing our electorate" pic.twitter.com/vYk0jyVFUZ
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) July 16, 2018