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This Fox News Reporter Is the Only Adult in the Room

The Daily Beast logo The Daily Beast 2/24/2022 Justin Baragona
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Throughout Russia’s transparent and brazen march to war in Ukraine, Fox News hosts and commentators have unleashed a flurry of deeply cynical, hyper-partisan rhetoric aimed at attacking Biden for the invasion or even deflecting blame from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While much of this unhinged commentary has gone unchallenged on Fox airwaves, in recent days one of the network’s last remaining well-respected journalists has taken on the role of schooling some of her colleagues on-air for pushing misleading or downright false claims about the unfolding crisis.

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has been a constant presence on the network over the past few weeks as the specter of war in Ukraine has exponentially increased. During this time, the veteran journalist—who has been with Fox News since 1999—has delivered well-sourced and timely reporting on the likelihood of Russia invading Ukraine amid an increasingly fraught situation in Europe and beyond.

Considering that Griffin has had to deliver some of these on-air reports during the network’s opinion programming, however, has resulted in situations where she has had to pierce the Fox News bubble of preconceived right-wing narratives.

Earlier this month, with Putin setting the stage for what inevitably turned out to be a full-scale invasion, the White House and national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned that Putin could start a siege “any day now.” In response, several Fox News stars claimed the Biden administration was actually fabricating the entire crisis to distract from the Fox-concocted scandal around the Durham filing, a misleading Hillary Clinton-involved outrage the network obsessively covered and at times branded as “bigger than Watergate.”

Appearing on top-rated opinion panel show The Five last week, Griffin stood by as co-hosts Greg Gutfeld and Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery took turns claiming Sullivan made up the threat of an invasion to provide cover for himself and Clinton, his previous boss.

“There’s something that feels very, very manufactured. I don’t know what it is,” Gutfeld said.

“It’s Jake Sullivan,” Kennedy confidently interjected. “And he is in deep yogurt in the Durham probe, and he’s been the one saying, ‘We have so much intelligence an invasion is imminent.’ He said that last Friday. It’s the next Friday, here we are.”

The former MTV veejay concluded: “I don’t think Putin is going to invade.”

Enter Jennifer Griffin, who made it abundantly clear that she was not amused with her colleagues’ commentary.

“First of all, I need to level set with the conversation I’ve just been listening to,” she flatly stated. “What we are witnessing right now is not something that just changed in the last 24 hours.”

Griffin later added: “Right now, every American should be watching this and knowing that this is deadly serious. This is not some Wag the Dog situation. To even mention the Durham probe in the same sentence as what we know, and what we can see with our own eyes in terms of the military buildup and knowing what Vladimir Putin is capable of.”

The reporter’s reference to the 1997 film Wag the Dog, depicting a fictional president fabricating a military crisis to distract from domestic scandal, was a clear shot at another Fox News host: Maria Bartiromo.

By that point, the MAGA-boosting host had already spent several days claiming the Ukraine crisis was nothing more than a White House “ruse” to distract from the “bombshell” Durham report. (Of course, the network has completely ignored the Durham filing the past few days after breathlessly hyping it last week. And Durham distanced himself from the right-wing furor over his court document.)

Video: WH: Ukraine rebel request a 'false flag' op (Associated Press)

Days later, Griffin yet again offered up sober analysis of the Ukraine situation to one of her propagandist colleagues, this time on Trump confidant Sean Hannity’s primetime program.

After Putin claimed he was merely sending “peacekeeping” troops into Ukraine on Monday, Hannity kicked off his show by blaming the impending conflict on Biden.

Griffin was once again forced to cut through the cynical partisan dogma to offer up expert analysis for Hannity’s viewers.

“Sean, how we got to this point is a long story and it predates the Biden administration,” she explained. “It includes mistakes made by every United States president since the Soviet Union fell apart. Putin has been laying the groundwork to retake Ukraine for years.”

And following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Griffin found herself busy correcting the record on Fox News airwaves Thursday morning, starting with Trump’s favorite morning show Fox & Friends.

Co-host Steve Doocy began the Griffin interview by declaring that economic sanctions against Russia “have not worked” and wondering if the Pentagon was “frustrated” with the U.S. response, especially considering that no American troops have been involved.

“NATO and the U.S. will not go to war over Ukraine, their goal is to contain this and keep this from spilling over into an Article 5 nation,” she replied, before addressing Doocy’s comments about sanctions.

“You talk about how the sanctions haven’t worked, I don’t know we can say that yet,” Griffin continued. “Overnight, the stock market in Russia fell by half, 50 percent. This is just the beginning of what is being described as a ‘shock and awe,’ if you will, of rolling sanctions that have not even begun to be felt yet by Putin, by his oligarchs and cronies there.”

Hours later, Griffin once more found herself in the position of schooling a colleague on the reality of the situation.

Midday anchor Harris Faulkner wondered to Griffin why more action wasn’t taken by the U.S. to deter Putin from invading. “We’ve had general after general tell us the sanctions weren’t going to work because they were baked into the cake as assets were being put into place,” she said. “And you say, ‘We saw this coming and they saw this coming.’ I'm just wondering why that was still the only strategy deployed?”

“I need to follow up on that because what you are talking about if it’s more than sanctions, you are talking about sending U.S. troops to Ukraine,” Griffin retorted, prompting Faulkner to object.

“No, no, did you hear Gen. [Dana] Pittard?” Faulkner shot back, referencing an earlier interview she did with the retired general, who “said we had other options we could have done around in our NATO countries—it was an interesting conversation.”

The Fox anchor added: “Look we can Monday morning quarterback, but now it’s Thursday and trying to look forward. He said we can still do the things in terms of military bases permanently.”

Griffin, for her part, patiently explained why the United States and NATO did not put troops on the border of Ukraine ahead of Putin invading a sovereign nation.

“If you had put those NATO troops into position before Putin crossed into Ukraine, you would have given him a pretext to go into Ukraine,” the correspondent stated. “This has been very calibrated because of the concern that Putin was looking for a pretext to go in.”

Griffin concluded: “Now you will start seeing a more permanent basing of NATO forces but there were very limited options at this late stage in terms of the last six months of preventing Putin from using this massive, massive military force that he arranged on the borders with Ukraine.”

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