Two emails obtained by CNN show Fox News instructing staff not to call Joe Biden the “president-elect,” nor to use whizbang graphics, if he is the projected – you know, president-elect.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter have the scoop about Fox asking on-air talent to defer to Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the vote by claiming, “We will report both sides until there is further guidance.” Although Fox denied that it had issued guidance, CNN has receipts:
One of the email messages told staffers that "we will not be calling Biden the president elect. Or using any of the whizbang graphics that say so."
A different email said, "Should former Vice President Biden get to that magic 270 number and Fox News calls the race for him - we should be completely transparent. We should stay away from calling him 'President-elect' for the time being."
A source at Fox described the guidance as well.
Darcy and Stelter also noted that Fox referred to Trump as the "President-elect" the day after the 2016 election.
However, Stelter also predicted that Fox might well back off its guidance. Indeed, that appears to be what happened:
Earlier this morning our story noted that "it is possible that Fox could change the guidance either before or after it calls the race." And there are clearly some staffers at Fox who disagreed with the guidance, hence, the leaks. https://t.co/nUxM3zNyLW— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 6, 2020
But that in no way excuses Fox.
Today, Stelter discussed the matter on the air. He called out Fox’s “shocking deference” that “still assumes [Trump is] telling the truth.”
Worse, though, is that the network misleads its millions of viewers, as well as its Fan-in-Chief by “promoting voter fraud innuendo” and “denigrating cities, like Philadelphia,” and treating Trump’s “long shot” lawsuits as “serious pursuits,” Stelter added.
STELTER: It gets to this broader issue about how Fox is informing or misinforming the public. The Fox Decision Desk is widely well-regarded in this industry … but these opinion hosts and these news anchors at Fox are showing shocking deference to these toothless lawsuits.
I’ll go a step further and say that Fox is showing “shocking deference” to Trump’s efforts to steal the election or at least delegitimize it in the minds of their viewers.
“The Murdochs are ultimately responsible,” Stelter rightly concluded.
In other words, the Murdochs are playing an outsized role in ensuring a peaceful transfer of power and keeping our democracy intact or tearing it apart. They may even be the ultimate arbiters.
May they find a sense of decency at long last.
UPDATE: Brian sent this, via Deadline:
At another point, Chris Wallace, talking about what may be covered on Fox News Sunday, said, “We may be talking about Biden as the president-elect. We may be talking about major court challenges. My guess is we’ll be talking about all of it.”
"The Murdochs are ultimately responsible," @BrianStelter notes. "Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch are responsible for what is on this network in the coming hours."@JakeTapper says if you're a Fox reporter who obeys the instruction, "You might as well hand in your press credential." pic.twitter.com/LlwvkorXLS— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) November 6, 2020