By Duncan Smith
One of the most controversial episodes of the 2020 presidential election was Fox News’ decision to call Arizona for Joe Biden very early.
In fact, when the network made the call, Arizonans were actually still in line waiting to vote.
What’s more, most of those waiting to cast ballots were from Trump country in the state, making the early call decision even more bizarre. And maddening.
At the time, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) blasted Fox News for making the early call.
'It's far too early to call the election in Arizona,' Ducey wrote on Twitter. 'Election Day votes are not fully reported, and we haven't even started to count early ballots dropped off at the polls. In AZ, we protected Election Day. Let's count the votes — all the votes — before making declarations.'
'Fox News is a complete outlier in calling Arizona, and other media outlets should not follow suit,' added Trump adviser Jason Miller. 'There are still 1M+ Election Day votes out there waiting to be counted – we pushed our people to vote on Election Day, but now Fox News is trying to invalidate their votes!'
'We only need 61% of the outstanding, uncounted Election Day votes in Arizona to win. These votes are coming from ‘our counties,’ and the 61% figure is very doable based on what our other Election Day votes are looking like,' he added. 'FoxNews should retract their call immediately.'
Fox News didn’t.
So — who made the call? And why?
Now we know.
Business Insider now reports that in Michael Wolff's forthcoming book, Landslide, there is a scene where network exec Lachlan Murdoch got a call from the network’s election desk about calling Arizona:
The book [notes] that the Murdochs—who spearhead a vast right-wing media empire—had 'every reason' to delay calling Arizona at the time, given Fox's steadfast allegiance to Trump and the fact that no other network had made the call yet. 'Lachlan got his father on the phone to ask if he wanted to make the early call. His father, with signature grunt, assented, adding, 'F— him,'' Wolff wrote. The book [says] that Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer then called Trump's lead social media strategist,Jason Miller, to let him know the network was going to call Arizona for Biden. 'Miller involuntarily rose from his seat. 'What the f—?' he said out loud, looking around and seeing the still-merry and untroubled faces in the Map Room'…Wolff wrote. Hemmer reportedly replied: 'That's what they're doing. That's what they're going with.'
'Who?' Miller asked.
'The election desk,' Hemmer said, adding that the network's decision was going to be aired imminently. The decision to call Arizona for Biden was a pivotal moment on election night, indicating the Democrat was poised to win the traditionally Republican-leaning state and complicating Trump's ability to declare an early victory in the overall race.
So, if this book is accurate, Fox News founder and CEO Rupert Murdoch himself made the call to call Arizona early.
At the time the Arizona results were called, the state was still very much in competition; Arizonans had not gone for a Democratic president since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Tell us again how the 2020 election wasn’t stacked against Trump from the outset.
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