President Trump and Fox News have a complicated relationship. Election Day did not help.
Donald J. The cable news channels that began Trump’s political career were suddenly in a position to signal his possible end. Network initial call Arizona Joseph R. Tuesday night for Biden Jr., Mr. Trump and his allies, who were publically Pressed Fox News officials to withdraw the call.
The trap Organized firm – Two of its biggest stars, Laura Ingrahum and Jeanine Piro, joined Mr. Trump’s morning speech in the East Room of the White House.
The election-night split screen underscored the fine line that Fox News’ anchor and opinion hosts have gone through in the last 24 hours. As of Wednesday afternoon, Fox News was the closest of any major network to calling the presidential race for Mr. Biden – not to the conclusion that its supporters wanted many fans of Trump programming.
Fox News Wednesday, Presidential Advocate Rudolf W. The only major cable network to hold a news conference organized by Giuliani was making baseless claims of electoral fraud. But the channel immediately cut to announce a major development: it projected a win in Michigan for Mr. Biden, putting him at the presidential door.
And soon after the network’s chief political anchor Brett Bair, viewers on Wednesday insisted that Mr. Trump’s threatened litigation could put the race in doubt – even though Mr. Biden was projected to win 270 electoral votes – Fox News Politics editor, Chris Stirwalt, threw cold water on some baseless claims of the Trump campaign.
“Sue, schmawsuits,” Mr. Stirewalt said. “We have not yet seen any evidence that anything is wrong.”
Fox News has long occupied an unusual position in the Trump classroom. The network is home to some of the president’s most vocal defenders, including Sean Hannity, Ms. Ingrahm, and hosts of “Fox and Friends.” But Mr. Trump often takes potshots in his news division and voting operations.
“Fox has changed a lot,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday morning “Fox and Friends.” “Someone said, ‘And what’s the biggest difference between four years ago?” I say, ‘Fox.’
The president is an avid spectator and constant critic, praising the first-name favorite hosts at rallies (“Jeanine!” “Tucker!”). Dialing network chief executive, Suzanne Scott, to complain about coverage. He has hired (and fired) former network personnel; Agreeing for the interview believed in his hosts; And relying on the political advice of Mr. Hannity, who had left the network on CNBC, cursing news anchors like Chris Haines and Shepard Smith.
In the wake of Tuesday’s Arizona call, a mixed view of Fox News had spread to some of Mr. Trump’s associates. Florida Republican Gon Ron Desantis, a Republican who rose to fame on Fox News guest appearances, scrambled the network for an insufficiently rapid launch of Trump’s victory in his home state.
“For Fox to resist calling Florida and yet jumping the gun on Arizona, I felt it unforgivable,” Mr. DeSantis told reporters in Tallahassee on Wednesday. “I don’t think it was done without some sort of motive, whether it was a rating, whether it was anything else.”
In fact, members of Fox News’ decision desk repeatedly explained that the network’s polling team – which reports to the news division and indexed on election night – was only following a rigorous analysis. The network’s data team, led by Arnon Mishkin, relies on a proprietary model that is based on data from The Associated Press.
Still, some Fox News personalities speculated whether Arizona would remain in Mr. Biden’s column. Summing up arguments from the Trump campaign, Mr. Baird said on Wednesday, “There may be some tightening, while Bill Hamer used an interactive map that would allow Mr. Trump to win in Pennsylvania.”
But when Mr. Heimer asked if the network might consider reversing the Arizona call, Mr. Stierwelt laughed. “It’s not like I’m watching,” he said.
Mr. Wallace made a serious prediction for the president. Shortly after Fox News guessed he said, “It’s real simple math.” Pointing to the advantages of Mr. Biden Nevada And Michigan, he said: “If he leads only in those two states, he is the 46th President of the United States.” (Fox News will call Michigan just one hour later.)
Mr. Hannity did not appear on Fox News on election night; He was set to return on Wednesday evening. The extent to which Fox News’s leading host hosts accept Mr. Trump’s baseless claims of fraud will be closely scrutinized.
According to Nielsen, the network set a record for the highest Election Day prime time viewership total in cable news history. Fox News attracted 13.6 million viewers between 8 and 11. Its next-closest competitor, CNN, attracted nine million in a three-hour block. Each of the three top broadcast networks took less than half of Fox’s viewership with ABC to 6.3 million viewers, leading that group.
This was followed by a serious rating in the week leading up to elections for Fox News. In October, Fox News averaged 4.9 million viewers in prime time, up 85 percent from a year earlier, and far more than MSNBC, which came in second with 2.7 million viewers.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” averaged 5.4 million viewers in October, the highest monthly average for any show in the history of cable news. And Fox News scored higher viewership totals than any broadcast network during the two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate.
Lachlan Murdoch, the elder son of Rupert Murdoch and executive chairman of Fox News parent company, was asked on Tuesday’s earnings call whether a possible Biden win could rein in the channel’s ratings success. He said that Fox News had dominated cable news rivals through “different administrations and different political cycles”.
Mr Murdoch said: “We fully expect him to be number 1.”
Patricia Mazzi contributed reporting.