On Election Night, 2020, Fox News made a controversial – and some believe premature – decision to call the state of Arizona for now-President Joe Biden, and the network is now denying an account in a new book that claims, among other things, that the move was the result of a decision made personally by For Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, according to Mediaite.
In his new book entitled Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency, journalist Michael Wolff contends that media mogul Murdoch himself gave the green light for the early call that put Arizona into Biden’s column last November, something that created a firestorm at the time and ultimately resulted in the departure of two longtime network executives, Bill Sammon and Chris Stirewalt.
According to a report from Business Insider, Wolff claims that Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation, spoke to his father, Rupert, on the phone that fateful night to ask whether he agreed with making the Arizona call earlier than most would have expected.
The answer from Rupert Murdoch, as Wolff tells it, came in a grunt of assent, accompanied by, “F*** him,” presumably a reference to then-President Donald Trump.
Current network executives, for their part, have vehemently denied Wolff’s description of what occurred, saying in a statement, “This account is completely false. Arnon Mishkin who leads the FOX News Decision Desk made the Arizona call on election night and Fox News President Jay Wallace was then called in the control room. Any other version of the story is wildly inaccurate.”
Wolff’s book also alleges that once Rupert Murdoch made his decision, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer got on the phone with then-Trump social media strategist Jason Miller and told him the news, prompting Miller to utter an expletive. “That’s what they’re doing. That’s what they’re going with,” Hemmer reportedly informed Miller.
The network has also denied the allegations about Hemmer’s role in the Arizona call, with a spokesperson saying, “This never happened and is completely false.”
Fox’s decision to call Arizona for Biden sent shockwaves through the political world and infuriated Trump and his staff to the point where some demanded that Murdoch upend the decision immediately. A report in Vanity Fair claimed that Trump himself called Murdoch and excoriated him over the move, as USA Today reported.
Notably, Wolff does not cite a single source regarding his claim about the Murdochs’ Election Night phone call. Though he maintains the books’ accounts of the reactions among Trump staffers that evening were supported by multiple sources, it remains to be seen whether there is any further opportunity to verify these rather wild accusations.