Fox News repeatedly and falsely suggested on Wednesday that the recently corrected Washington Post story about former President Donald Trump’s call with a Georgia investigator could have affected the Georgia Senate runoffs, apparently not realizing that the story was originally published four days after the election.
During Wednesday’s broadcast of the daytime panel show Outnumbered, the hosts covered Trump’s Tuesday night Fox interview with Maria Bartiromo, which featured the ex-president claiming that the story “probably affected the Senate race.” Trump’s assertion came on the heels of Bartiromo conflating the corrected report with another story on Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
“I know you put out a statement about this story, Mr. President, but tell us what your reaction is that The Washington Post had to correct this fake news that they reported that you told the secretary of state of Georgia to ‘find the fraud’ and find the votes right before the Senate race,” Bartiromo said to the former president during the interview.
The truth of the matter, however, is that The Washington Post obtained the entire audio recording of Trump’s controversial call to Raffensperger on Jan. 3, two days before the election, and published a story detailing Trump’s pleas to the secretary of state to “find” over 11,000 votes to flip the state’s election results. None of the quotes in that story were ever in question as the Post sourced them directly to the call recording, which they included in full.
Days later, and after the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs that saw both Republican incumbents lose, the paper was the first to report on Trump’s Dec. 23 call with the chief investigator of the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. The Jan. 9 story, based on a then-anonymous source, claimed Trump urged investigator Frances Watson to “find the fraud” in the state’s election and become a “national hero.”
After the Wall Street Journal obtained audio of that call last week, which did reveal Trump repeatedly urging Watson to search for voter fraud while telling her she’d “be praised” if the “right answer comes out,” the Post issued a lengthy correction noting it had misquoted the ex-president as he never said the words “find the fraud” or “national hero.” At the same time, the basic thrust of the story—that Trump attempted to pressure Georgia officials to overturn the election—remained. Prosecutors, in fact, have launched a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts.
While airing Trump’s false claim that the corrected story affected the Senate race, Outnumbered host Emily Compagno did note that the story revolved around the chief investigator. At the same time, however, she framed the discussion on how the report supposedly impacted the election.
Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt, meanwhile, said he would not give the Post “credit for correcting the mistake,” saying the paper had “a tremendous responsibility to tell the truth and they failed to do it.”
He added: “And what they did is they peddled this fake made-up quote that did enormous damage in terms of coloring everything that occurred in the weeks and months after that, uh, in terms of the Georgia elections.”
After Hurt seemed to suggest the story came out weeks or even months prior to the runoff, Compagno then turned to fellow panelist Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery to weigh in.
“Kennedy, you did such a phenomenal job in the A-block with tying in the national situation we are in back down to that Georgia Senate election,” she said. "Charlie talks about the importance of having faith and maintaining trust in the media, but this also illustrates or underscores the power it has and perhaps that election might have had a different outcome.”
Kennedy, while not directly addressing the election claim, did seem to agree with Compagno’s point.
“Power and money, because it’s owned by Jeff Bezos,” Kennedy replied. “Here’s the thing, like, I don't want some journalist misquoting Joe Biden, I do want to see this sort of tit-for-tat. I think that’s incredibly unfair and it’s a really bad look for journalists. I hope journalists go back to vetting their sources and making sure they investigate the source material, they get it right the first time. The correction has maybe a tenth of the eyeballs, and that’s being very generous, than the original story that did so much damage.”
Fox News told the Daily Beast that the error will be corrected on Wednesday night's broadcast of Fox News Primetime—which will be hosted by Bartiromo—and tomorrow's Outnumbered.