Former Fox News political editor figures in Jan. 6 hearing

Fired Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt was once a voice at former President Trump’s favorite television news agency.

When Stirewalt announced to viewers on election night in 2020 that Trump had lost Arizona to Joe Biden — a major obstacle to Trump’s potential to win 270 electoral votes — it had to hurt.

Stirewalt, who now works for cable channel NewsNation, appeared Monday as the first witness on the second day of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump’s alleged role in instigating the incident.

His straight-forward statement about his network’s reporting on the night of November 3, 2020, which caused widespread consternation in the White House, was part of the committee’s case that Trump continued to spread false claims of voter fraud that robbed him of a victory. although staff told him he lost and there was no evidence to the contrary.

Stirewalt was asked by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), member of the January 6 committee, about Trump’s chances of victory after November 7 – the day Biden’s election was called. “None,” said Stirewalt, noting recounts in key states could not have shifted enough votes to reverse any of the states Trump lost.

The former political editor discussed how the same-day vote, which Trump touted to supporters, created a “red mirage” that made it appear he was going to win before absentee ballots were tabulated. Democrats probably vote by mail, but votes on the same day are often counted first.

Trump was upset that Fox Arizona’s polling bureau called for Biden long before other news outlets. The final count showed Biden winning by around 11,000 votes out of nearly 3.4 million ballots cast.

“We were able to call early,” Stirewalt told the committee. “We were able to beat the competition.”

Stirewalt told NewsNation colleague Leland Vittert in an interview that aired Monday night that he had no problem appearing before the committee, even though it’s unusual for working journalists to attend such a situation.

“I received a letter from Chairman Bennie Thompson asking me to attend now,” Stirewalt said. “I could have tried to resist and get them to send a subpoena. But this was a duly constituted committee of the United States Congress. I’ve spent a lot of my career speaking about the importance of institutions, especially Congress. Therefore, I do not believe it would have been appropriate for me to contest a duly made motion by a duly composed committee of the United States Congress.”

Stirewalt’s testimony was significant because he worked for the network, where the commentators, hosts and guests were staunch defenders of the former president.

Fox News opted not to air the opening night of Thursday’s hearings on its flagship channel, opting to go prime time with its opinion presenters, who had blasted the proceedings as a political witch hunt. The network broadcast Monday’s session in its entirety, including Stirewalt’s appearance.

In his interview with Vittert, Stirewalt said he was given no specific reason for being called to the hearing.

“I don’t know why they wanted me other than the fact that … the call we made in Arizona that beat the competition mattered at the White House,” Stirewalt said. “One of the deep misconceptions that my experience in 2020 has revealed today is that somehow we allow these things to happen. We just tell people what happened.”

Stirewalt was part of the elections department and polling desk at Fox News, both of which have excellent reputations for authority and accuracy in political circles, despite the right-wing leanings of the rest of Rupert Murdoch’s own network.

Fox News also invested heavily in a system to improve its ability to analyze voting data. After the 2016 election, the company created the Fox News Voter Analysis System, a survey developed with the Associated Press and the NORC at the University of Chicago that surveys more than 100,000 people about their candidate preferences. The poll allowed the network to call races faster and more accurately.

But when the polling station released numbers showing Trump was falling behind in the 2020 election, the former president lashed out at Fox News on social media.

Fox News has publicly staunchly defended its decision, despite rival broadcasters not calling for more than a week.

Based on the Nielsen ratings, Fox News viewers were clearly unhappy with the reported outcome. In the months following the election, the station lost its number one spot, falling behind CNN and MSNBC.

Viewership rebounded and Fox News is back at No. 1. But Stirewalt was fired on Jan. 19 in what the company called a restructuring. Stirewalt has said his firing was related to viewer dissatisfaction with the Arizona call.

“Partisan-leaning news outlets are not a natural home for dispassionate election forecasting,” Stirewalt said in a recent interview with The Times. “The problem for me at Fox was that the audience didn’t like what I had to say. It wasn’t good news for them, and they seemed partial to it.”

Though conservatives have criticized the hearing for having seven Democrats and only two Republicans, Stirewalt said based on his experience, Stirewalt said he saw no evidence that the committee skewed the information he was willing to present .

“I can tell you that the people I worked with, spoke to and did the pre-interview with me seemed polite, professional and patriotic, they were good to work with,” Stirewalt said. “I didn’t have a problem with them, nor did I feel like they wanted me to change what I had to say, or that the truth was incongruous in any way.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-06-13/chris-stirewalt-testimony-fox-news-trump Former Fox News political editor figures in Jan. 6 hearing

Alley Einstein

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