Fired Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt has accused the network of ‘indulging their consumers’ worst cravings’, as he blasted what he described as the ‘hype men in the media who tried to steal an election or at least get rich trying’.
Stirewalt, who was part of the Fox’s election team that called Arizona for Joe Biden before his sensational firing last week, penned a scathing opinion piece for the LA Times where he appeared to pin some of the blame on Fox for the ‘rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election’.
Though he did not reference Fox by name, he made a series of thinly-veiled attacks on the network with its focus on ‘ratings’ meaning it avoids ‘at almost any cost impinging on the reality’ of its viewers.
The ousted editor, who worked at the Rupert Murdoch-owned network for more than a decade, also claimed he was targeted with ‘murderous rage’ from viewers after the network was first to correctly call Arizona for Biden in the presidential election.
Stirewalt, 46, was ousted last week along with at least 16 digital editorial staffers in a purge that Fox described as a ‘post-election restructuring’.
Stirewalt had publicly defended the network’s move to call Arizona on the night of November 3 while other networks held back to watch the razor-thin margins play out.
The Associated Press joined Fox in calling the state for Biden three hours later on election night, but other networks including ABC, CBS and NBC all waited eight days until November 12, by which time Biden had been declared the overall winner of the White House race.
Biden won Arizona by 10,475 votes out of nearly 3.4 million cast.
The call by Fox, which has long been an ally of Donald Trump, sparked outrage from the network’s right-wing viewers as well as Trump himself who pushed Jared Kushner to call Murdoch directly and demand he retract the call.
Fired Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt (pictured) has accused the network of ‘indulging their consumers’ worst cravings’, as he blasted what he described as the ‘hype men in the media who tried to steal an election or at least get rich trying’
Stirewalt wrote that the refusal among Trump supporters to accept the outcome of the presidential election was partly the fault of what he called the ‘hype men in the media’.
‘The rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election was partly a cynical, knowing effort by political operators and their hype men in the media to steal an election or at least get rich trying,’ he wrote.
He took aim at Fox for ‘indulging their consumers worst cravings’ and ‘avoiding at almost any cost impinging on the reality’ in order to hold on to ratings.
‘Whatever the platform, the competitive advantage belongs to those who can best habituate consumers, which in the stunted, data-obsessed thinking of our time, means avoiding at almost any cost impinging on the reality so painstakingly built around them,’ he wrote.
Stirewalt described an environment where unnamed ‘superiors’ ‘track even tiny changes in viewership’.
‘Ratings, combined with scads of market research, tell them what keeps viewers entranced and what makes them pick up their remotes,’ he wrote.
He took aim at his former employer using the choice word ‘firing’ to describe his departure – after Fox claimed it had ‘realigned its business and reporting structure’.
He suggested his exit came about as the network ‘offers penalties for reporting the news but lots of rewards for indulging a consumer’s worst cravings.’
Stirewalt, who was part of the Fox’s election team that called Arizona for Joe Biden before his sensational firing last week, penned a scathing opinion piece for the LA Times (above) where he appeared to pin some of the blame on Fox for the ‘rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election’
While the longtime editor was laid off last week, hosts such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlsson remain in their positions at the network after spending weeks pushing Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread election fraud – claims that had no evidence and were tossed out by several courts and debunked by Trump’s own administration.
Trump continued to push the claims in his rally on January 6 where he told his supporters to ‘fight’, moments before a MAGA mob stormed the US Capitol in a riot that left five dead.
By contrast, Stirewalt wrote that Fox viewers were ‘furious’ that he had called Arizona for Biden.
‘When I defended the call for Biden in the Arizona election, I became a target of murderous rage from consumers who were furious at not having their views confirmed,’ he wrote in the op ed.
Stirewalt defended the early call saying he was ‘proud’ of making the projection ahead of other networks as ‘being right and beating the competition’ was part of the job.
He compared his speed at calling the state to the move made by Erastus Brooks, former owner of the New York Evening Express, to beat the competition in announcing an important state election in the 1840s.
‘Once, in order to beat his competitors with the results of an important state election in the early 1840s, Brooks hired out a stateroom on a Hudson River steamboat and installed a printing press,’ he wrote.
Stirewalt was part of the election team that was first to correctly call Arizona on the night of November 3 (above). Most networks didn’t call it until November 12
‘By the time the competition’s reporters returned to New York City from Albany to file their stories, Brooks already had the finished product in hand.’
Stirewalt wrote that the media industry is ‘chockablock’ with stories of ‘heroic (and sometimes underhanded) efforts’ to beat the competition in getting a story out to the American public and that he had always focused on being first in his career.
‘I have always been with Brooks. I wanted to steam downriver as fast as I could to be first with the news to beat the competition and serve my audience,’ he wrote.
Two days after the call and amid the backlash from viewers and Trump’s White House, Stirewalt doubled down on the call on air saying: ‘Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do and we remain serene and pristine.’
Stirewalt wrote in the op ed: ‘I was proud of our being first to project that Joe Biden would win Arizona, and very happy to defend that call in the face of a public backlash egged on by former President Trump.
‘Being right and beating the competition is no act of heroism; it’s just meeting the job description of the work I love.’
Trump (pictured at the MAGA rally on January 6 before rioters stormed the Capitol) was furious at Fox News for calling Arizona and even demanded his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, call Murdoch to demand a retraction. Murdoch refused
But the ousted journalist hit out that ‘being first’ is of ‘scant value’ and can actually be a ‘commercial disadvantage’ because the US has become ‘a nation of news consumers both overfed and malnourished.’
‘Americans gorge themselves daily on empty informational calories, indulging their sugar fixes of self-affirming half-truths and even outright lies,’ he wrote.
Stirewalt broadened out his anger to the media industry consumers in general saying ‘most stories are morally complicated’.
‘The lie that Trump won the 2020 election wasn’t nearly as much aimed at the opposing party as it was at the news outlets that stated the obvious, incontrovertible fact,’ he wrote.
Trump was furious at Fox News for calling Arizona, on the night of the election, before any other network.
The then-president demanded his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner call Murdoch to demand a retraction but Murdoch refused to bow down.
In response Trump urged his supporters to boycott Fox and watch rivals Newsmax and OAN instead.