All that changed was when Fox News declared Joe Biden the winner in Arizona, the swing state, on the night before the 2020 election. Although the top Decision Desk analysts at Fox News remained confident that the call was correct, many thought it was too early. There were hundreds of thousands of uncounted vote that night.
Fox’s hard-news personality Bret Baier was the target of criticism over the Arizona call by Trump supporters. He was also on-air at Fox as the results came in. Along with anchor Martha MacCallum, he announced the call. Not only did the call from Arizona come too early for Trump supporters, it also upset Trump’s campaign.
Fox News was the only network to call Arizona for Joe Biden on Tuesday night. This surprise move was reportedly surprising and possibly understandable.
The call was recorded by the network with Biden leading by 7 percentage points, but there were hundreds of thousands of votes still to be counted in the State. John Roberts, chief White House correspondent, noted this when he spoke to Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier, who seemed confused by the call.
It turns out that Baier may have been incorrectly added to Trump’s list of media personalities not preferred by Trump and his tens or millions of supporters. The Divider: Trump and the White House, 2017-2021 by Peter Baker, Susan Glasser and Susan Glasser claims that Baier was not happy with his network calling Biden in favor of Arizona in an early, controversial call.
The authors claim that Baier sent an email to Jay Wallace, Fox News president, in which he stated, “The Trump campaign was really pissed off” about the call. They wanted it reversed.
According to reports, the analysts at Fox News Decision Desk who were responsible for announcing election results believed nothing was unusual about the Arizona call. Business Insider claims that Baker and Glasser claimed Baier stated that the Decision Desk analysts, including Chris Stirewalt (ex-Fox News contributor), stood behind the decision “for pride.”
The authors of the book claimed that Baier urged Wallace to reverse the Arizona call.
They called the statement “stunning” because Arizona wasn’t in Trump’s column. However, his margin of defeat in Arizona narrowed after the election. They wrote that Fox’s leading news anchor was trying to claim Arizona was too close to calling, but also to pretend that Trump had won it.
Although Wallace did not allow the Arizona call to go back, he clearly took Baier’s request for help very seriously. According to the book, the Fox News president refused to allow the network to call Nevada, another swing state, for Biden later in the election night. According to the authors, Wallace did not want Fox to be first to call the election and proclaim Biden president-elect.
Fox News fired Stirewalt later. Fox News later claimed that his departure was due to a restructuring strategy. However, people within the business knew that it was likely because of his controversial Arizona call. Stirewalt later defended his Arizona call in multiple instances, including witness testimony at a House J6 committee hearing.
It’ll be fascinating to see how Fox News makes its decisions with a major election coming up in just seven weeks. I don’t think we will see any early calls.