In the early hours of Wednesday morning, as too-close-to-call battleground states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada were tallying votes, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum—two non-opinion personalities, who, in theory, are meant to put the “news” in Fox News—led a panel that laid out the network’s first line of defense for Donald Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election. Shortly before the president’s press conference, in which he deemed votes tallied after Election Day were a “fraud on the American public,” a straight-faced Baier described the strategies of each campaign as though they were remotely comparable. On one hand, he said, Joe Biden is calling for states to fulfill their legal requirement of counting “every vote.” On the other, Republicans “are going to be saying, ‘No, stop the vote.’” Baier’s guest, conservative legal scholar Jonathan Turley, chimed in to explain why this scenario made Democrats the real crooks: “When people say, ‘count every ballot,’ in a situation like this, it could prove utter madness.” And MacCallum then doubled down, claiming that there is “going to be a lot of subjectivity in the question of whether or not all of his ballots are valid in many cases.”
Of course, Baier and MacCallum’s segment justifying the de facto disenfranchisement of Americans due to the inconvenience of counting mail-in ballots has proven to be one of the softer arguments for voter suppression made on the network. In the programming hours after the president threatened to unleash a Supreme Court stacked with his personal draft picks, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager appeared on Fox & Friends and claimed that Trump is yet again being victimized by the powers that be. “We are winning this election. And the president is going to get to 270,” David Bossie asserted after suggesting, without evidence, that “they” could very well be “stuffing the ballot boxes” in Biden’s favor. He continued by signaling that the campaign’s “lawyers are warming up in the bullpen.” Earlier in the segment, Corey Lewandowski, a senior adviser for the Trump campaign, also argued that Trump “already won” North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—despite Michigan trending in Biden’s favor and Pennsylvania still in toss-up territory. “You put all those together, Donald Trump is the president of the United States, and he was reelected last night,” Lewandowski said.
Elsewhere, some of the network’s top talent has been aligned with the Trump campaign nearly word-for-word, implying to their millions of viewers that if Trump loses, it will be the result of fraud. Fox Nation host Tammy Bruce misattributed a Stalin quote to claim that elections are not decided by the people, but are instead decided by the few “who are counting those votes,” a line she cited to falsely claim that Democrats are pulling a Stalin by counting “128,000 new votes in Michigan, 100% of which went to Joe Biden.” Likening her baseless stolen-election theory to the “soft coup” Trump faced after being impeached, Bruce told Fox Business host Stuart Varney that “falsifying votes or doing shenanigans, cheating in this kind of a fashion is nothing compared to what they were doing, frankly, I think, in 2016. So the president is—should do everything possible…[to make this] a fair and free election. And many people at this point are not seeing it that way.”
During Maria Bartiromo’s slot on Fox Business, the host demanded to know if a nebulous “they” will be allowed to “get away with” stealing the election. “I mean, do you feel that the administration has the policing in place to make sure that America will feel that we have gotten a safe and fair election?” she added in response to her guest claiming that the Biden campaign is working around the clock to figure out how it can “try to steal this thing” in Pennsylvania. In fact, Biden’s strong showing in the Keystone State is the result of the hundreds of thousands of uncounted mail-in ballots that are slowly being logged, as roughly three-quarters of Pennsylvania residents who opted to vote absentee are backing the Democratic nominee. Fox News contributor and former GOP congressman Jason Chaffetz apparently cannot comprehend why these legal votes are being tallied. “The president is up nearly 700,000 votes in Pennsylvania! You can’t statistically go back and tell me that that thing is still really in play,” he said. “How are they going to go get 700,000 additional votes?!” But Sean Duffy, another former Republican lawmaker turned Fox contributor, did challenge the notion that Trump owns every state he happened to be leading in by midnight, saying that “there’s no way” the president can catch up to Biden’s lead in Wisconsin during a Wednesday afternoon hit on Fox Business.
Continuing his role as a voice of reason at the now Shep Smith–less network, Chris Wallace had attempted to break down Trump’s fake ballot controversy early Wednesday morning. “This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it. He hasn’t won these states, nobody is saying he’s won these states,” Wallace said after Trump’s predictable, premature victory speech. “There’s no question that all these states can continue to count votes for days, they don’t have to certify for weeks who has won the state.” His tone was echoed by his colleagues at the Fox decision desk, whose director, Arnon Mishkin, defended his team’s decision to call Arizona for Biden early on—a move that enraged the Trump campaign and, as my colleague Gabriel Sherman reported today, the president himself. “I’m sorry,” Mishkin said on air Tuesday night, “The president is not going to be able to take over.”
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