February 18, 2024
After legal threat, Fox airs news package debunking election fraud claims made by its own hosts

Fired Fox News political editor calls out ‘hype men in the media’ who helped Trump attempt to ‘steal an election’

Chris Stirewalt, who drew scorn from Trump and his supporters after calling the state of Arizona early on election night for now-President Joe Biden, did not name Fox News while leveling criticism against the media in his Los Angeles Times piece. But it was clear that he was referring to the right-wing cable channel throughout his critique.

Stirewalt said the “rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election” was a result in part of Trump’s “hype men in the media” who helped him try to “steal an election or at least get rich trying.”

Fox News, which did not respond to a request for comment on Stirewalt’s piece, employs several propagandists in the roles of hosts or on-air contributors who pushed erroneous claims of election fraud in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Star hosts with large platforms and massive viewership, such as Sean Hannity, for weeks pushed the belief that the election had been stolen from Trump.

What’s become known as “The Big Lie” culminated in the January 6 terror attack in which a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building in an attempted insurrection that turned deadly.

Stirewalt wrote that the refusal to believe the election results among many Trump supporters was a “tragic consequence of the informational malnourishment so badly afflicting the nation.”

“When I defended the call for Biden in the Arizona election, I became a target of murderous rage from consumers who were furious at not having their views confirmed,” Stirewalt added. “Having been cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long, many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally.”

In his piece, Stirewalt described the US “as a nation of news consumers both overfed and malnourished.”

“Americans gorge themselves daily on empty informational calories, indulging their sugar fixes of self-affirming half-truths and even outright lies,” he wrote.

The Fox News decision desk’s call of Arizona came early on election night, generating controversy and infuriating Trump and his team who attempted to have it reversed.

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Trump and a former senior White House official, even got in touch with Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire owner of the network, in an attempt to get Fox News to take back its call.

But the network stood by it, and Stirewalt aggressively defended it on the network’s air during election week. The call, which was questioned by some data wonks for having been made so early, ultimately proved to be correct. However, earlier this month, Stirewalt was let go from the network he had called home for more than a decade.

Fox News framed firing Stirewalt as part of a larger organizational restructuring. But people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post that it was due in part to Murdoch believing the network had mishandled its Arizona call.