Fox News Personalities Amplified Big Lie of Stolen Election

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images. Politicians like President Donald Trump and Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are rightfully b...


fox news channel building

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Politicians like President Donald Trump and Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are rightfully being condemned for their roles in inciting the violence in the Capitol last week. Five people are dead because they lied to their supporters about Trump losing the 2020 election, and lied that Congress had any ability to change that.

In the wake of the horrific spectacle, another group bears responsibility: Fox News hosts and personalities who were also complicit in pushing the reckless lie that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Even more chilling footage has emerged from the deadly insurrection at the Capitol by Trump supporters on Wednesday. Based on a mountain of evidence, from eyewitness reports to countless videos, the motivation of the attack is clear: the rioters fervently believed the election was stolen. They believed that Trump won re-election, in a landslide as he has repeatedly claimed and that Congress was on the verge of certifying a stolen election.

That belief is wrong. It is clearly false. Attempts to prove it have been shot down in court and sane leaders in the Republican Party have refused to embrace it.

But these beliefs did not manifest in a vacuum. There is a clear reason for them. Not only has President Trump and many members of Congress repeatedly lied that there is evidence of a stolen election, but those lies were being embraced, and sometimes repeated explicitly, by voices on the most-watched cable news network in America.

Anyone who watched a few hours of Fox News since November 3rd has heard a steady drumbeat of coverage suggesting that the 2020 election was fraudulent. This was mostly presented on prime time opinion programs and Fox & Friends, but the same idea was also presented by many guests on news programs.

In the weeks that followed the election results, Fox viewers were left confused by competing reports. Fox News had called the election for Biden, but its most-watched hosts were questioning it. Maria Bartiromo, for example, was beating the drum of election fraud, only to have her claims thoroughly debunked a few hours later by news anchor Eric Shawn.

Some of the conspiracy coverage was more oblique (you could also call it cowardly). Tucker Carlson flatly said that the election was stolen, but he clarified that it wasn’t through fraud: it was rigged by a cabal of media conglomerates and “Big Tech” platforms that stacked the deck against the common man. Less nuanced arguments came from Trump toadies like Jeanine Pirro, Jesse Watters, and Greg Gutfeld. Bartiromo won the award for most shameful coverage, by giving a platform to nutjobs Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, and Rudy Giuliani to falsely spread disinformation. And she is a news anchor, allegedly.

Most remarkably, Bartiromo, Pirro, and Lou Dobbs were all forced to air extensive fact-checks on their shows regarding false claims they made about the election, under threat of legal action from a voting systems company.

The support of stolen election claims even continued after the deadly attack on Wednesday.

Take for example Sean Hannity, who seconds after condemning the insurrection added, “The people who acted violently today, they don’t represent the millions of law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying citizens, responsible American patriots that are worried about election integrity.” No reasonable person is against election integrity. Bringing it up in this context is straight from the Hawley-Cruz playbook.

White House advisor Peter Navarro claimed to have proof of a stolen election to news anchor Martha MacCallum after the Capitol Hill insurrection on Wednesday. MacCallum appeared uncomfortable after Navarro’s unfounded claim, but didn’t push back, and instead pivoted to another topic.

To be clear, all of these Fox News personalities have denounced the violence in D.C. last week. And it is only fair to point out that a number of Fox News anchors have debunked claims of a stolen election, namely Bret Baier and Chris Wallace.

Those who gave credence to the lie of a stolen election, even in the abstract, bear the burden of being derelict in the duty to promote the truth. A staggering percentage of Republicans believe the election was stolen. Not because it was, but because Trump told them it was, and Fox News hosts supported him in that lie.

Given programming decisions made since the insurrection last week—the network is more focused on tech censorship and calls for Biden to bring “unity” than it is on the Trump-incited violence—it appears that a less than a faithful obligation to the truth will likely continue.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.



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Newsrust: Fox News Personalities Amplified Big Lie of Stolen Election
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