Fired Fox News Editor Responds to 'Murderous Rage' After Early Arizona Call
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The recently fired Fox News editor behind the network's controversial early call of Joe Biden winning Arizona in November addressed what he learned as a result of that projection in a Thursday Op-Ed.
Chris Stirewalt, whose projection was criticized by viewers and some of former President Donald Trump's campaign officials for being premature, wrote about being the subject of "murderous rage" in a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed.
"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," Stirewalt wrote. "But it was also the tragic consequence of the informational malnourishment so badly afflicting the nation.
"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."
With just 73 percent of the vote counted, Fox News was the first major outlet to call Arizona for Biden — a projection that would prove to be correct. The new president won the state by 10,000 votes, per the Washington Examiner.
Hours later, The Associated Press became the second organization to make the same call. Many other news outlets waited days before calling the Grand Canyon State race for Biden.
Not only was Fox News criticized, Trump campaign officials demanded a retraction.
In his Op-Ed, Stirewalt expressed concern about the expectations of today's media by viewers and readers.
"Having been cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long, many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally," said Stirewalt, who was fired last week along with nearly 20 other digital operations staff.
"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."
Stirewalt said balanced reporting requires contributions from both reporters and Americans on the receiving end of news.
"While there is still a lucrative market for a balanced offering of news and opinion at high-end outlets, much of the mainstream is increasingly bent toward flattery and fluff," Stirewalt wrote.
"Most stories are morally complicated and don’t have white hats and black hats. Defeats have many causes and victories are never complete. Reporting these stories requires skill and dispassion. But hearing them requires something of consumers, too: Enough humility to be open to learning something new."
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