Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt, a witness on day two of the televised January 6th hearings, blamed the network for amplifying false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
After being instrumental in the Trump-allied Fox News‘s calling of a win in Arizona for then-candidate Joe Biden on election night 2020, Chris Stirewalt’s days at the Rupert Murdoch-owned propaganda network turned out to be numbered.
After Stirewalt was seen as responsible for the election being called for Biden, Fox News execs and hosts went into panic mode, afraid of losing their fan base and Donald Trump’s favor.
They were right. The visceral reaction Stirewalt received from Trump supporters, his campaign – and even Trump himself– he describes as “a furious, murderous kind of rage.”
In the interview with David Folkenflik at NPR, Stirewalt talks about the network’s move towards opinion and away from the more hard-hitting and fact-based journalistic news. It was a move that went all-in on telling Fox News viewers exactly what they wanted to hear. Stirewalt admitted to Folkenflik:
“Part of the problem, of course, was that there were opinion hosts on Fox who for months and months and months, had been repeating the baseless claim that Trump was going to win the election for sure.”
Stirewalt claims that these opinion hosts were admittingly saying things to the audience they knew to be untrue. Stirewalt was one of over a dozen Fox News staff let go between election night and President-elect Biden’s inauguration.
Stirewalt has remained consistent in his belief that he made the right call on election night. He never wavered, despite losing his job, much of the support he had at the network, and a long and proven career in right-leaning political journalism. NPR posted a soundbite from a recording with Bret Baier, Chris Stirewalt, and Martha Maccallum on January 22, 2021.
When asked by Baier if he was “still positive on Arizona,” Stirewalt replied, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Arizona is doing just what we expect it to do, and we remain serene and pristine.”
But the far-right turn made by Fox was a wake-up call for Stirewalt. It was their choice to put extreme partisan politics at the forefront of their platform and ignore the negative impact the lies and propaganda have had on their viewers and real journalists.
The fallout, he said, “showed to me how much television–the perceptions of events, of television as entertainment, news as entertainment and treating it like a sport–had really damaged the capacity of Americans to be good citizens in a republic because they confused the TV show with the real thing.”
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