In an undemocratic and borderline treasonous move, Fox News anchor Bret Baier wanted the network to reverse calling Arizona for Biden on election night 2020—after feeling the heat from an infuriated then-President and his supporters.
According to the new book, “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021,” caving to pressure from Trump and MAGA, Baier emailed Fox News Media President Jay Wallace to rescind the Decision Desk’s call.
Business Insider reported:
“‘The Trump campaign was really pissed,’ he wrote in an email to Jay Wallace, the president and executive editor at Fox,” according to the book set for publication on Tuesday. “‘This situation is getting uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. I keep having to defend this on-air.'”
After Fox called Arizona for Biden, top anchor Bret Baier emailed network president Jay Wallace that "The Trump campaign was really pissed" and "The sooner we pull it … and we put it back in his column the better we are in my opinion," per a new book. https://t.co/xGnG0IqcSL pic.twitter.com/LD6VKm4h31
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) September 20, 2022
Journalist and USA Today contributor Michael Wolff wrote in his 2021 book, “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” that after being told the Arizona results were going to be announced for his opponent, President Trump was less than pleased.
“What the f—? How can they call this?” Trump said, according to the book. “We’re winning. And everybody can see we are going to win. Everybody’s calling to say that we’re winning. And then they pull this?”
Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer reportedly called the President’s then-social media strategist, Jason Miller, to give him a heads up.
“‘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’ of Trump campaign staffers and insiders who believed they were on the fast-track to reelection, Wolff wrote,” according to Business Insider.
The network’s Decision Desk, headed by director Arnon Miskin, was confident in its decision to call Arizona for Biden.
Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt—who gave public testimony during the Jan. 6 televised hearings—defended the call, recognizing the significance of the right-wing network’s decision.
“The call was the handwriting on the wall for Trump’s chances, and it delighted Democrats almost as much as it infuriated MAGA land. Regardless of who won, we were proud to have beaten the competition yet again and defended the title network promos had given us as “the best-in-class Decision Desk,” according to POLITICO.
“When I went on-air in 2020 to defend the Decision Desk’s call that Joe Biden would win Arizona, I was supremely confident. The Decision Desk team that director Arnon Mishkin had built was the best in the business. And we had better survey data than the competition, thanks to our partnership with the Associated Press and the National Opinion Research Center.”
But Baier was ready to acquiesce to the pressure from Trumpland, regardless of the credibility hit to the network if it changed course.
“‘It’s hurting us,'” he wrote, according to the book. “‘The sooner we pull it— even if it gives us major egg —and we put it back in his column the better we are in my opinion.'”
In an op-ed for POLITICO with excerpts from Stirewalt’s book, “Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America & How To Fight Back,” the longtime political analyst says, “I was fired from my job on Decision Desk after calling the election for Biden in 2020. The funny thing is I should have seen it coming.”
Despite Baier’s blustering —and his top anchor position— the election desk’s call for Biden in Arizona wasn’t the only obstacle. His own boss, Rupert Murdoch was on board with the announcement.
Wolff wrote in his book that when Lachlan Murdoch called his father to see if the media mogul wanted to make the call, the elder Murdoch allegedly replied, “F—k him!”
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