Comments made by the stars of the network's prime-time opinion programs came in contrast to coverage by its correspondents reporting from Ukraine.
Katie Robertson and
As Russia began an invasion into Ukraine, the Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday night welcomed a call in to her show from former President Donald J. Trump, who blamed the “weakness and the incompetence” of the Biden administration for the military strike.
Tucker Carlson, Fox News’s top-rated host, questioned why Americans hated President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a segment on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, he labeled Ukraine “a pure client state of the United States State Department.”
As Mr. Putin mounts an offensive against Ukraine, despite diplomatic efforts by the United Nations and sanctions by the United States and other nations, the comments from some of Fox News’s biggest stars stood in contrast to the reporting from the network’s own journalists.
Fox News has four correspondents reporting from Ukraine, with Steve Harrigan and Trey Yingst in Kyiv and Mike Tobin and Lucas Tomlinson reporting from Lviv.
Jennifer Griffin, Fox News’s national security correspondent, said in a report on Wednesday night that Russia’s attack was “a full-scale invasion.”
“The way in which Putin is describing Ukraine, he is describing it as an existential threat to Russia,” Ms. Griffin said. “This is a figment of his imagination. This is a man — if you look in his eyes, you see someone who has gone completely mad.”
Ms. Griffin’s report came during an hour of breaking news coverage that pre-empted Fox News’s usual 11 p.m. offering, the conservative opinion show “Gutfeld!”
On Feb. 21, Ms. Griffin pushed back against the host Sean Hannity, who suggested that President Biden was to blame for the conflict.
“Sean, how we got to this point is a long story, and it predates the Biden administration,” she said, adding, “It includes mistakes made by every U.S. president since the Soviet Union fell apart.”
Mr. Carlson took an isolationist approach in the lead-up to the invasion. On Tuesday night, he asserted that Democrats believed Americans had a “patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin,” but questioned why the Russian president was vilified.
“It might be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious: What is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much?” Mr. Carlson said. He added, “Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia?” He also argued that Ukraine was not a democracy.
“But Joe Biden likes Ukraine, so Putin bad, war good,” Mr. Carlson said.
On Wednesday night, Ms. Ingraham bumped her guest, the journalist Glenn Greenwald, to speak with Mr. Trump. She described a speech by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine imploring Mr. Putin not to invade as “a really pathetic display.”
Mr. Trump said Mr. Putin would have been satisfied with just taking over two separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine but had moved ahead with the invasion because “he sees the weakness and the incompetence and the stupidity” of the Biden administration.