Fox News fires editor who defended correct Arizona call after backlash from Trump, viewers
File Image: This May 3, 2020, President Donald Trump is waiting for a segment to start from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington during a Fox News virtual town hall.
Two top Fox News executives who were involved in calling Arizona exactly after Joe Biden would be leaving the organization by the end of the month. This is seen as part of the dissatisfaction of the organization leadership under Rupert Murdoch over the alleged abuse of the election projection.
45-year-old Chris Stirewalt, who has been on the network for more than a decade, was the broadcaster's face as he projected 11 votes for the then Democratic candidate Biden in front of the other networks, thereby drawing trouble from the network's supporters of President Donald Trump and his supporters. The broadcaster did not make a statement citing the confidentiality of the employees when he left.
Bill Sammon, 62, the head of Fox News' Washington office, also announced his resignation on Monday. Sammon ran the network's "decision desk," which despite an accurate prediction, provoked criticism of his call in Arizona.
The network had projected Arizona for Mr. Biden on election night of November 3rd at 11:20 p.m. when only 73 percent of the votes were reported, while other news outlets sought more evidence before the call. "It's far too early to hold the elections in Arizona," Arizona Republican governor Doug Ducey said on Twitter.
"Election day votes are not reported in full, and we haven't even started counting the early ballots cast in the elections," Ducey said.
Although the network's call was backed by the Associated Press three hours later, the early projection had infuriated Mr Trump's campaign when his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner contacted Fox's owner, Mr Murdoch.
Explaining the significance of Fox's early election night appeal, the New York Times wrote, "The Trump campaign knew Arizona could be won, but Fox News' call to include him on Mr Biden's column was symbolic and made it the first state to do so. " seemed flipped out of the ranks of the 2016 president's winning states. "
The damage was not only done to Mr. Trump, but also to the station's reputation, it said. Murdoch reportedly told his colleagues that the way the network handled the Arizona news cemented the station's image as working against the outgoing president.
The Trump campaign was "angry," said John Roberts, Fox News' chief White House correspondent. "Pushback is a very easy word."
Two days after the call, Stirewalt defended the projection, saying, "Arizona is doing exactly what we expected and we will remain serene and pristine." Although Stirewalt continued to host a podcast on Fox News politics with another host, Dana Perino, it has not been on the air since Nov. 16, the New York Times reported.
But Stirewalt and Sammon aren't the only ones leaving the channel. Fox is laying off 20 additional employees as part of the station's "post-election restructuring".
"We are confident that these changes will ensure that the platform continues to deliver groundbreaking reports and insightful analysis on important domestic and international issues," the network told the Washington Post.
Fox News' ratings have scored one hit since the polls and lost some of that to Newsmax.
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