Former Fox politics editor Chris Stirewalt provided some indirectly devastating-to-Fox testimony at yesterday’s January 6 hearing. But afterward, in an interview with NPR, he was more forthcoming about the network.
Stirewalt, you may recall, was fired in a purge not long after the network enraged MAGA world with its early, yet proven correct, call that Joe Biden had won the state of Arizona in the 2020 election.
Media Matters explains how Stirewalt implicitly condemned his former colleagues in his testimony yesterday:
Stirewalt explained that the collapse of Trump’s early lead in several states, which he seized upon as evidence of election fraud, is actually a well-known process known as the “red mirage” that “happens every time” because absentee ballots are usually counted later in the tabulation process, and more Democrats vote by mail than Republicans. He added that he and some of his colleagues had “gone to pains” before the election to stress to Fox viewers that this would happen “because the Trump campaign and the president had made it clear that they were going to try to exploit this anomaly.”
He further explained that as of November 7, 2020, when Fox and other networks called the presidential race for Joe Biden, Trump’s chances of winning were “none” and the odds of winning the Powerball were greater than the election being reversed.
Although Stirewalt did not comment on Fox’s role in promoting the Big Lie, Media Matters notes that “Fox questioned the election results or pushed conspiracy theories about it at least 774 times in the two weeks after Stirewalt’s decision desk called the race for Biden.”
In other words Stirewalt’s testimony shows that his colleagues knew, or should have known, that the Big Lie (which we now know was also a big Trump grift) was just that. Instead of acknowledging the truth, Fox fired the truth teller.
After his testimony, Stirewalt spoke to NPR’s Folkenflik about Fox’s bad-faith behavior:
"Fox News should have been proud of the work we did, and we should have been rewarded, and we should have been lifted up," Stirewalt said in the interview. "And they should have defended the journalists who they hired to do a job."
Fox has always been a propaganda network with a news division to give it credibility. But I would argue that starting with the 2019 ouster of Shepard Smith, and culminating with the 2020 election lies, Fox has all but openly admitted to putting fact-free opinions over news. How else to explain the network’s decision not to air the January 6th prime time hearing last week in favor of Tucker Carlson’s attacks on the hearing, even though the network swore in court that nobody should consider Tucker Carlson a trustworthy source of facts or truth? And that Fox “News” shunted its “ultimate in professionalism” journalists to cover the hearing on the much-lower rated Fox Business Network?
In his interview, Stirewalt suggested his firing was due to the network’s “panic” over what he described as “a furious, murderous kind of rage” from MAGA world over Fox’s election truth.
Through a senior spokesperson, Fox News declined to comment for this story. The network has in the past attributed his departure to a typical restructuring after a big election. Its Washington Managing Editor, Bill Sammon, left at the same time, in what was termed a retirement.
Stirewalt offered a wry laugh about that.
"Fox lost the thread over time, but the old idea at Fox was a robust news division," Stirewalt said. "But for a lot of reasons, there was some panic."
Fox has since stopped spreading the Big Lie, probably because the network is having some more panic about the multibillion-dollar lawsuits it’s facing as a result of having previously spread it. Otherwise, it would probably still be continuing to do so. Its other lies continue apace.
You can listen to Stirewalt’s June 13, 2022 NPR interview below. Underneath you can watch Stirewalt testify to the January 6th committee on June 13, 2022, via ABC News. Underneath that is a November 13, 2020 Media Matters video showing Fox hosts denying the truth about the election.
At the moment, the FCC is completely hamstrung anyway.
Does America have any kind of licensing body for broadcasters? Does the FCC have any power to judge/suspend/close a channel? I would dearly love to see Fox and the Murdochs having to defend their indefensible enterprise in a public hearing just to try and stay in business.