Many loyal viewers of the Fox News channel will say that something changed the summer of 2020. It seemed as if the most reliably conservative-friendly cable news outlet was slowly developing a “different” attitude about President Donald Trump.
People of that opinion will also likely tell you something definitely changed on November 4, 2020 – when Fox became the first network to call Arizona for Joe Biden in the presidential race.
Turns out, that may have been true.
A Vanity Fair report from July that no doubt many people missed gives details from a book by notorious Trump-hating author Michael Wolff that claims, in the chaos of election night 2020, it was Rupert Murdoch – owner of News Corp, which owns Fox News – himself who personally gave the go-ahead to make an early call for now-President Joe Biden in Arizona.
In Wolff’s new book, “Landslide,” he chronicles the climb up the network food chain in which the final decision was made to make the call for Arizona going to Biden.
According to the book, Wolff claims that the decision making process actually started fairly high up, with Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and co-chairman of News Corp, getting a call from the Fox election desk, who informed him they were ready to call Arizona for Biden.
This was a significant call because Arizona had been a fairly red state, and now was essentially being flipped blue. And of course, Fox News would be the first to declare Biden the winner.
The younger Murdoch, according to Wolff, was not comfortable with giving the OK and called his father, asking him if he wants to make the call. The book claims that the elder Murdoch gave an unceremonious harrumph and declared, “f*** him,” referring to President Trump.
Fox News denyied any of the story was true. But if it was Rupert Murdoch’s hatred of Donald Trump that pushed him to make the fateful call for Biden in Arizona, that hatred sent the network that was consistently number one into a nosedive.
In the month following the election, the Fox News channel sunk below its cable news competitors. CNN had one of its best ratings periods to date following the election, beating out Fox News by around 17 million viewers. At one point in January of 2021, Fox was coming in third behind CNN and MSNBC.
While the primetime line up at Fox was still leading the way, Fox News viewers were making their voices heard by changing the channel.
Start up networks like Newsmax and One America News were gaining viewers. At one point Newsmax’s “Greg Kelly Reports” edged out Fox’s Martha McCallum’s “The Story” by 26,000 viewers.
After election night 2020, Fox News appeared to be a bit shaken up by the exodus of viewers and made changes at the decision desk. Fox Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt was fired in January, and Bill Sammon, senior vice president and managing editor at the Fox News Washington bureau, announced his retirement.
But recently, Fox News announced that Arnon Mishkin, who made the fateful call for Biden and Arizona will be coming back to Fox News to work the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election.
Does this mean that Fox has learned nothing from election night 2020? We shall see.
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