The Fox News Network has been reeling since the election after the newsroom became a scene of infighting over the precipitous call of Arizona for Joe Biden on election night. The network has also come in for scathing criticism — not all from the left — for its coverage of Trump’s election challenges.
But it was the Arizona call that caused the massive loss of viewers, including Donald Trump, whose withering criticism led to a ratings slide that now sees the network trailing both CNN and MSNBC.
You knew heads were bound to roll and the network announced the departure of two prominent figures in the political division.
Bill Sammon, senior vice president and managing editor at Fox’s Washington bureau, announced his retirement to staff members on Monday. On Tuesday, as part of a restructuring of Fox’s digital operations, politics editor Chris Stirewalt was let go.
Fox’s decision to call Arizona for Biden took the network’s anchors by surprise and infuriated the White House, which believed the determination was premature.
Stirewalt and Fox’s decision desk chief, Arnon Mishkin, were the two most visible people defending the decision on the air amidst heat from President Donald Trump and his supporters. Mishkin, who worked the election on a contractual basis, is not a Fox employee.
The network explained, “Fox News Digital has realigned its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era.” What they’re really doing is jettisoning anyone associated with the decision to call Arizona for Biden on election night. How many billions of dollars that call cost the corporation is unknown but given their current ranking behind the other two liberal networks. Sammon and Stirewalt won’t be the only ones with their heads on the block.
Nearly 20 people lost their jobs as part of the restructuring, according to someone familiar with the changes who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to speak on personnel issues.
No one at Fox would comment specifically on Stirewalt, citing the confidentiality of individual personnel matters. He’s been with Fox since 2010.
Sammon and Stirewalt were correct in their call and made Trump angry. It’s a legitimate question to ask whether they just got lucky or if Fox’s internal numbers were that much better than everyone else’s. The major networks didn’t call Arizona despite most election analysts saying after most of the votes were counted on election night that it would take a miracle for Trump to win.
The major news networks were being extremely cautious about calling close states because of the large mail-in vote and the prospect of angry conservatives accusing them of bias. Look what it did to Fox News. Major media settled in and waited for almost all the votes to be counted before calling Arizona.
The state eventually went to Biden by a mere 10,400 votes out of 3 million cast. And Fox News became a casualty of their own success.