Bret Baier wanted Fox to cave to Trump pressure after the network called Arizona for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
From Justin Baragona, at The Daily Beast:
Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier wanted to “give into” then-President Donald Trump’s demands that the network reverse its correct 2020 election night call of Joe Biden winning Arizona, reportedly telling executives they should “put it back” in Trump’s “column.”
According to the new book The Divider, Baier emailed Fox News president Jay Wallace and noted that the “Trump campaign was really pissed” about the channel’s vaunted Fox News Decision Desk’s projection of Arizona, adding that the situation was “really uncomfortable” because he personally keeps “having to defend this on air.” This detail from veteran journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser was first reported by Insider.
Baier, the face of Fox’s “straight news” division, then made the following plea to Wallace: “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.”
This is both shocking and not surprising at the same time. Fox claims that Baier embodies “the ultimate [in] journalistic integrity and professionalism,” but while he sometimes bucks Fox orthodoxy, he also sometimes lacks the courage to do so in any meaningful way. He is not infrequently complicit. As John Amato, my boss at Crooks and Liars put it, Baier “tries to have things both ways.”
Maybe that's only on the air.
More from Amato:
"Jay Wallace didn't do what Baier wanted, but he later refused to let the Decision Desk team call Nevada for Biden after other networks did because he "did not want Fox to be the first to call the election and declare Biden president-elect," the authors wrote." [via Insider]
Not only is that journalistic malpractice, it's rewarding the scumbag MAGA cult's bad behavior and gives them license to do it again and again.
Baier is pushing back. More from Baragona:
“The full context of the e-mail is not reported in this book. I never said the Trump campaign 'was really pissed' - that was from an external email that I referenced within my note,” Baier said in the statement. “This was an email sent AFTER election night. In the immediate days following the election, the vote margins in Arizona narrowed significantly and I communicated these changes to our team along with what people on the ground were saying and predicting district by district. I wanted to analyze at what point (what vote margin) would we have to consider pulling the call for Biden. I also noted that I fully supported our decision desk's call and would defend it on air.”
In response to Baier’s comments, Glasser released her own statement. “We stand by the reporting in our book, and would note that his statement does not deny the accuracy of the email we reported,” Glasser wrote on Tuesday afternoon. “In addition, it’s especially notable that Baier wrote in the email that it would be better for Fox News ‘to put it [Arizona] back in [Trump’s] column.’ In fact, Arizona was never in Trump’s column.”
That’s not very surprising, either.
(MacCallum and Baier image via screen grab)