- Fox News was heavily criticized by its viewers after it called Arizona for Biden in 2020.
- After the immediate backlash, Fox News President Jay Wallace was reluctant to call Nevada, per NYT.
- Nevada’s election result would have made Joe Biden’s victory all but certain.
Fox News President Jay Wallace was reluctant to call Nevada’s 2020 election result just days after the network was heavily criticized by its viewers for being the first to call Arizona for Joe Biden, according to text messages obtained by The New York Times.
The network’s election team was prepared to call Nevada on November 6, NYT reported, which would have all but cemented Biden’s victory. But in a text message reviewed by the Times, Wallace, who has been the network president since 2018, refused to air the result.
“I’m not there yet since it’s for all the marbles — just a heavier burden than an individual state call,” he wrote, according to NYT. It was not specified who Wallace was messaging.
When Fox News was the first network to correctly call Arizona’s results for Biden on election night, the backlash from viewers and Donald Trump’s campaign was almost immediate.
Trump flew into a rage asking, “What the f—? How can they call this,” according to Michael Wolff’s book, “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency.”
Trump’s campaign then attacked the network’s Decision Desk Director Arnon Mishkin as a “Clinton-voting, Biden-donating Democrat” and accused him of “prematurely” calling the state’s election result.
Jason Miller, Trump’s chief 2020 campaign adviser, accused Fox News of trying to “invalidate” people’s votes.
In an internal post-mortem discussion of Fox News’ handling of the 2020 election, top network executives mulled over reverting back to an older, less accurate system for elections projection, considered accounting for viewer reactions instead of solely relying on numbers when calling results, and discussed delaying calls in general, according to NYT, which obtained a recording on the November 16, 2020, meeting.
“FOX News stood by the Arizona call despite intense scrutiny,” the network said in a statement. “Given the extremely narrow 0.3% margin and a new projection mechanism that no other network had, of course there would be a wide-ranging postmortem surrounding the call and how it was executed no matter the candidates.”
A spokesperson declined to comment on Wallace’s text message.
Fox News has also been under scrutiny after documents in an ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems revealed how top anchors and executives privately knew that the conspiracy theories claiming a rigged 2020 election were false.