Donald Trump and his aides were furious when Fox News became the first network on election night to call Arizona for Biden. And the founder of News Corp. was behind the decision, revealed Michael Wolff in his forthcoming book ‘Landslide.’
On election night, Murdoch’s son Lachlan, the CEO of Fox Corporation, got a call from the network’s election-data operation shortly after 11 p.m. ET saying they were ready to declare Arizona for Biden.
The state was highly competitive during the contest and had not gone for a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1996. Biden and Trump both campaigned hard for the state with Biden winning a coveted endorsement from Cindy McCain.
Wolff notes in his book, according to an excerpt published by Business Insider, that the Murdoch family had ‘every reason’ to delay calling Arizona, given Fox’s pro-Trump stance and the fact that no other network had made the call yet.
‘Lachlan got his father on the phone to ask if he wanted to make the early call. His father, with signature grunt, assented, adding, ‘F— him,” Wolff wrote.
Rupert Murdoch personally made the decision to allow Fox News to broadcast that it had called Arizona for Joe Biden in the 2020 election
Donald Trump and his aides were furious when Fox News became the first network to make the call
Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer called Trump strategist Jason Miller to let him know the network was going to call Arizona for Biden.
Miller rose from his seat. ‘What the f***?’ he said out loud.
Fox News denied Hemmer’s involvement, as outlined in the book.
‘This never happened and is completely untrue,’ a spokesperson said.
Trump, in a blanket statement released on Friday, slammed Wolff and other authors of upcoming books about his presidency, calling them ‘fiction.’
‘It seems to me that meeting with authors of the ridiculous number of books being written about my very successful Administration, or me, is a total waste of time. They write whatever they want to write anyway without sources, fact-checking, or asking whether or not an event is true or false. Frankly, so many stories are made-up, or pure fiction,’ he said.
Michael Wolff’s book ‘Landslide’ is July 13
But Trump was enraged about Fox’s election night call and trashed the network on Twitter in the aftermath of the election.
The Associated Press followed soon in calling Arizona after but other news channels held off.
Despite pressure from Trump administration officials, Fox stood by its call. Biden won Arizona by about 10,000 votes and recounts reaffirmed his victory.
The network announced Biden’s win at 11:20 pm on election night.
Trump erupted in anger, telling others in the White House to ‘get that result changed,’ a senior administration official told The Washington Post at the time.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows phoned Fox News’s decision desk while senior adviser Hope Hicks, who had returned to the White House after a spell working at Fox Corp., got in contact with Raj Shah, a former Trump White House staffer whom she hired at Fox, about getting the call reversed.
Former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway reached out to Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier to complain. And White House senior adviser Jared Kushner contacted Rupert Murdoch to try and get it retracted.
Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump together in June 2016, when Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee for president
But the network stood firm. And Fox decision-desk chief Arnon Mishkin went on air to explain his call and stand by it.
The real danger was that Fox could have become the first news outlet to call the presidential race for Biden. With Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in his column, Biden just needed Nevada’s six electoral votes – a state where he was in a comfortable lead – to take the White House.
But no news organization called Nevada first. Instead Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes were awarded to Biden, giving him the presidency without the Democrat needing Arizona.