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'Disgusting' and 'surreal': Fox voices offer sharp criticism of Trump in Helsinki

The criticism is among the most significant aimed at Trump from Fox News personalities since the 2016 election.
by Claire Atkinson /

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Neil Cavuto on Fox Business called it “disgusting." Fox News' website ran an opinion piece with the headline, “Putin eats Trump’s lunch in shocking Helsinki summit.” Fox News anchor Bret Baier called it "almost surreal at points."

President Donald Trump's appearance alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday drew broad criticism from Republicans and Democrats. But even some of the notable faces of Fox's cable channels, which have generally reported favorably on the president throughout his first term, struggled to defend his actions on Monday.

Abby Huntsman, a Fox News anchor and co-host of “Fox & Friends Weekend” (and daughter of Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia) tweeted: “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”

The list goes on. Trish Regan on Fox Business called the president's appearance "unpatriotic."

Regan said on air that she had wanted to suggest that the media was wrong for questioning whether to have the summit, particularly after the FBI indicted 12 Russians for interfering in the 2016 election — but she couldn’t.

“He should have defended us,” she said on air. Her guest, Jack Keane, a retired four-star general, added that Trump’s performance was “stunning and disappointing.”

Even "Fox & Friends" showed signs of turning on Trump. Co-host Brian Kilmeade took issue with Trump blaming tensions with Russia on previous U.S. action.

“That’s by far the most ridiculous tweet of late and that is insulting to past administrations," Kilmeade said. "He can’t be saying that going into the Russian summit.”

The criticism is among the most significant aimed at Trump from Fox News personalities since the 2016 election, as the channel's opinion hosts have mostly supported the president. The Trump administration has also hired numerous people with connections to Fox News, most recently bringing in former Fox News executive Bill Shine as deputy chief of staff for communications.

Shepard Smith, the Fox News anchor who has most often pushed back against the president, didn't hold back. "Shameful, disgraceful, treasonous — three of the descriptions of what President Trump did today in Helsinki," Smith said, referring to comments by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former CIA Director John Brennan.

Brit Hume, senior political analyst at Fox News, tweeted that Trump's answer to a question on whether he believes the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russian interfered in the 2016 election was "a vague and rambling nonanswer."

"Lame response, to say the least," Hume added.

When asked for comment, a Fox news spokesperson referred NBC News to the network's coverage of the day.

Cavuto was the most critical of the president after the summit. Appearing alongside host Stuart Varney on Fox Business, Cavuto said the news conference "has got to be the most incredible thing I’ve ever witnessed."

Fox Business correspondent Charles Gasparino tweeted in support of Cavuto, “I’m so proud of Neil @TeamCavuto for refusing to drink the trumpian koolaid.”

Gasparino later insinuated there may be a reason that Trump is being kind to Putin.

"You got to ask yourself why Trump would so abjectly kiss Putin's ass unless of course he thinks he owes Putin something or Putin has something on Trump," Gasparino tweeted.

Fox News also hosted Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, which has also come to Trump's defense. Kissel called the event "a great propaganda victory" for Putin.

Trump is giving his first two interviews after the summit to Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. Hannity is known to be particularly close to the president.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has an interview with Putin, which is set to air on Monday at 6 p.m. ET.

CORRECTION (July 16, 2018, 6:00 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of a Fox News anchor. He is Bret Baier, not Brett.

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