MSNBC host Chris Hayes repeatedly pressed recently fired Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt on Thursday night over his former network’s peddling of misinformation, even raising his eyebrow when Stirewalt seemed to defend Fox at one point.
Following his termination last week in what Fox News insiders described as a “purge” and “blood bath,” Stirewalt broke his silence on Thursday morning with a Los Angeles Times op-ed. While barely mentioning his former employer, he did write at length about what he learned after the Fox News decision desk called Arizona for now-President Joe Biden on Election Night.
“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. (Former President Donald Trump and his supporters were enraged at Fox over the Arizona call, leading to the rise of stridently pro-Trump network Newsmax, and eventually leading to Stirewalt’s firing.)
For the majority of Stirewalt’s interview on MSNBC’s All In, the ex-Fox Newser largely focused on the state of the news industry as a whole. Noting that he was actually “not responsible” for the fateful call—explaining it fell on “an awesome team of fabulous nerds” and former Fox News editor Bill Sammon, who retired this month—Stirewalt said he didn’t “understand the magnitude of anger on the right” for some time.
“That was effective in defeating Trump’s attempt to disrupt the election to steal an election because, yes, it was the narrative was broken,” Stirewalt said of the call, adding: “But the credulity of which the consumers were saying the election was stolen woke me up to unhappy facts about the way that the industry works.”
He went on to say that it was all the people who fully believed Trump’s false “stolen” election claims that surprised him since it showed that “a lot of people have grown accustomed to being flattered by their news outlets.”
After Stirewalt said he’s now learned that “24 hours is not the correct increment to consume news,” Hayes confronted him with Fox News’ role in peddling the “Big Lie” that the election was “stolen” from Trump due to baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
“But the deeper problem is that your network, the president, was feeding people substantive lies! Incredibly important, material lies about the world. Not like ‘the Dems are bad’ or that ‘we don’t like them.’ They were lying!” Hayes exclaimed.
“They were giving them mistruths about the state of the world,” he continued. “That’s a substantive problem with what was being pumped out, not a formal question of the 24-hour news cycle.”
Stirewalt began to answer, asserting that’s “not what I was doing” and that he “wasn’t pumping out mistruths,” prompting Hayes to raise his eyebrow at that moment.
“You raise whatever eyebrow you wanna raise,” an irritated Stirewalt shot back.
“No, no, no… my eyebrow was at the network where you worked for was,” Hayes contended.
The ex-Fox News reporter went on to defend his work at Fox News, saying he “did and said what I wanted to do and say” while at the network. He then proceeded to circle back to his larger point about how the current business model of news consumption is broken, making a clear effort not to directly criticize his ex-employer.
“There are people on the network you worked for that are lying to people,” the progressive MSNBC host finally declared. “And it’s really bad for the country. I don’t know any other way to say it but that’s just where we are.”
“Lying to people is a bad thing to do,” Stirewalt replied. “I didn’t lie. Like you, I patrolled those boundaries and that’s not what I participated in.”