As Russian military forces continue to invade Ukraine, Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst says he is focused on the “pursuit of truth” even as some of the network’s top anchors minimize the situation.
“We have no direction in what we do other than pursuit of the truth and to bring the latest stories to our viewers to make people care about it,” Yingst told TheWrap. “My focus every day is, ‘How can I do that? How can I make people care about a story?’ And in the three-and-a-half years that I’ve been involved at Fox, they have given me the space to report.”
Yingst, who is among four Fox News correspondents in Ukraine, is joined in Kyiv by correspondent Steve Harrigan. The network also has two reporters in Lviv, Mike Tobin and Lucas Tomlinson.
“There’s a commitment to getting those stories,” Yingst said of the decision to have several reporters covering the conflict on the ground. “That’s what we’re focused on every day.”
President Vladimir V. Putin launched Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine on Wednesday. Airstrikes could be heard in the background on Wednesday night and continuing into Thursday as Yingst reported live from the country’s capital city.
Despite the increasing volatility of the situation, Fox News anchors have continued to downplay the attack. On Tuesday, the network’s top-rated host Tucker Carlson classified the ongoing conflict as a mere “border dispute” and questioned why Americans felt “a patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin.”
“It might be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious: What is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much?” Carlson said, also arguing that Ukraine is not a democracy.
“But Joe Biden likes Ukraine, so Putin bad, war good,” he added.
On Wednesday night, Laura Ingraham welcomed former President Donald Trump on her show, where he said that Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine “all happened because of a rigged election” and the “weakness and the incompetence” of the Biden administration.
The network’s correspondents, both abroad and stateside, have pushed back on this narrative. Speaking with TheWrap, Yingst echoed sentiments expressed by his colleague Jennifer Griffin while on air Wednesday night, when she called Russia’s attack is “a full-scale invasion.”
“This is becoming possibly the most significant world event in decades, because it is changing the security situation in Europe so significantly that the whole world order will be shifted as a result of this invasion,” Yingst said.
He added: “We’re talking about a country of 40 million people. It was just invaded for reasons that, as journalists, we can’t totally grasp. The reason that President Putin of Russia gave to launch this invasion, as journalists we are searching for evidence to support his claims and we can’t find that.”
Yingst, 28, who is from Hershey, Pennsylvania, and based in Jerusalem, also discussed the procedures he undertook as the invasion was beginning.
“Safety is always our number one priority and we started to execute the plan,” he said. “We have a meeting point. We have go bags. We have flak jackets, Kevlar helmets, and we rehearse this for a week in preparation for this to happen. So everything sort of unfolded. Then, once the safety was taken care of, and we knew everyone was accounted for and this was starting, and we were in the right place, then we started to do our job.”
Yingst added that he was hoping that the dust would settle soon so he and his crew could begin to focus on the wellbeing of the people of Ukraine.
“War is hell. There’s no other way to describe it. War is hell for those who have to experience it,” he said. “You see it in the images. There was a photo published today by AFP of a man looking over the body of his father who was killed in a strike. You see it in the images of children, who tonight will be sleeping in bunkers or in the subway because they’re worried about air campaigns. And you see it in the faces of everyday people who are just terrified about what comes next.”
“That’s the reality now for the people of Ukraine, let alone the soldiers who are now on the frontlines fighting a war to defend our country.”