Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a divide among some of the country’s most influential conservatives.
Is the right more “America first” or “coalition of the willing” these days?
At this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, and beyond, prominent Republicans and conservative commentators have been going at it over Ukraine.
1. MARK LEVIN VS. THE “NATIONALISTS”: Levin, a popular radio host and Fox News commentator took aim at right-wing populists and nationalists during a speech at CPAC advocating U.S. support for Ukraine against Russia.
- “We love America because it’s America, not because we’re nationalists. I mean, the Russians are nationalists. The Chinese are nationalists,” Levin said.
- “You want a world war? Then become an ostrich, put your head in the sand and let the Russians roll through one country after another,” he said at another point, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “genocidal maniac.”
J.D. Vance, a Republican Senate candidate in Ohio and fellow CPAC speaker, recently staked out the opposite position as Levin’s , saying he “doesn’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.”
- Big League Politics, a right-wing blog, described Levin’s CPAC remarks as “war propaganda.”
2. NEWSMAX VS. TUCKER CARLSON: Newsmax on Friday accused Carlson, the top-rated Fox News host, of “supporting Putin and Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.”
- “Newsmax strongly opposes Putin, his unprovoked attack on a sovereign and democratic nation, and has strongly criticized Fox News’ top host Tucker Carlson for supporting Putin and Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine,” a spokesman for the right-wing news channel said in a statement.
- Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy similarly slammed Carlson’s rhetoric about Russia in a statement the same day: “I think we are seeing for conservatives a clarity moment where Fox News’ main host is stating categorically he is siding with Putin and Russia in support of the invasion. Newsmax supports President Biden‘s efforts to stop this invasion, if anything we think he is not being strong enough.”
3. JENNIFER GRIFFIN VS. FOX NEWS: Griffin, Fox News’ longtime national security correspondent has repeatedly clashed on air with her colleagues in recent weeks.
Fox News' @JenGriffinFNC with a forceful fact-check after the previous guest, former Trump adviser Doug Macgregor, said the U.S. should "absolutely" let Putin take parts of Ukraine.
"What he just said was so distorted that I do feel that our audience needs to know the truth" pic.twitter.com/WRxRHxS7qr
— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) February 28, 2022
Douglas Macgregor, an ex-Pentagon official in the Trump administration, appeared on Fox News Sunday evening and spoke out against U.S. involvement in Russia’s Ukraine war.
- “This is not the liberal democracy, the shining example that everyone says it is,” Macgregor said of Ukraine. “I think we need to stay out of it. The American people think we should stay out of it, the Europeans think we should stay out of it. And we should stop shipping weapons and encouraging Ukrainians to die in what is a hopeless endeavor.”
- Griffin appeared on the same program minutes later and issued a fiery rebuttal.
- “There were so many distortions in what he just said,” she argued, saying Macgregor sounded like an “apologist” for Putin. “To blame NATO membership for what we’ve seen Putin unleash and what we’ve seen from Putin himself, he is talking in czarist words.”