Fox News Tries to Tell Trump Through the TV: The Party’s Over
The president's favorite network has really tried to hammer home the message that it's time for him to face reality and move on.
President Donald Trump’s favorite network has spent the weekend trying to telegraph one simple message to him: The party’s over.
After days of anticipation, former Vice President Joe Biden was finally declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election when news outlets, including Fox News, felt comfortable enough with Biden’s lead in tipping-point state Pennsylvania to call it for him, pushing the Democratic nominee over the necessary 270 Electoral College votes.
At the same time that Fox News called the election for Biden, the Trump campaign held a bizarre press conference in Philadelphia where the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani continued to make baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud while insisting that Team Trump would move forward with its legal challenges.
While stridently pro-Trump outlets such as Newsmax TV—which is making a concerted effort to appeal to disgruntled MAGA supporters upset with Fox—refused to call the election for Biden while peddling Giuliani’s claims, Fox News hosts and commentators drove home the message on Saturday—perhaps in an attempt to reach one of their most loyal viewers—that the president’s lawsuits are futile as there is no evidence of massive election fraud.
Moments after the network called the race—they waited until most other networks and outlets had announced their projections—Fox News anchor Chris Wallace noted on-air that the president was refusing to accept the results and would continue to move forward with the campaign’s legal and recount efforts. The veteran anchor, meanwhile, pointed out that this was ultimately a pointless endeavor.
“Trump has every right to pursue legal challenges, other failing candidates have in the past,” he said. “So far we didn’t see anything to rise to the level of serious fraud and certainly not a serious fraud that would change the results of elections.”
Wallace also said that Trump’s position would become “increasingly untenable” over the coming days as prominent Republicans move on and plan for a post-Trump White House, adding that “you’re going to see more and more of that from Republican leaders in the Senate and the House and around the country.”
News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, who led much of Saturday’s election coverage, repeated the mantra throughout the day that the Trump campaign has so far not presented any proof to back their allegations that the election was stolen from the president.
“We have not seen widespread fraud yet, any evidence of widespread fraud,” Baier said at one point in the early afternoon. “We continue to look into allegations as they pop up and we continue to not find that.”
Members of the Trump campaign who appeared on the channel over the weekend were also pressed to present their evidence while the network’s “hard news” anchors hammered away at the message that there was no proof of fraud so far.
Sandra Smith, for instance, grilled Trump campaign strategist Harmeet Dhillon when she noted that they would continue forward with their legal challenges in an attempt to overturn the results in several states.
“The point is there's no evidence of that voter fraud or at least widespread evidence of voter fraud,” Smith stated. “There's a new campaign statement that says what this means is counting all legal ballots and not counting any illegal ballots. so you're making the case that you haven't even been provided the opportunity to find evidence of voter fraud. so how do you plan to do that to prove this in court?”
Dhillon, meanwhile, said they did actually have evidence, pointing to “individual affidavits that are being filed,” prompting Smith to fire back: “Where? Where have you found that?”
“I don't telegraph my legal strategy in advance,” Dhillon meekly responded.
Reporting from Pennsylvania—ground zero for the Trump campaign’s longshot lawsuits—weekend anchor Eric Shawn openly debunked Giuliani’s accusations and claims by citing local election officials and experts.
“I spoke with several people who do work here as counters—they’ve been counting votes since Tuesday, and they all told me it is impossible to commit fraud and describe strict protocol oversight inside counting rooms,” he said, adding that the security is so tight that vote counters can’t even bring in pens to potential mark up ballots.
But it wasn’t just the network’s straight news figures who seemingly delivered the message to Trump that it was time to accept that he lost and nothing will change that. Several pro-Trump commentators and analysts explained that the Trump lawsuits are hopeless while clearly nudging the president to concede and peacefully transition power.
Fox News legal analyst Andrew McCarthy highlighted one of the key contradictions in Team Trump’s argument Democrats engineered systematic election fraud to steal the election: Apparently, they forgot to rig down-ballot races in the House and Senate.
“If you put President Trump to the side, the Democrats lost this election, you know, they lost the Senate, we will see what happens in January,” McCarthy declared. “They lost seats in the House. It's going to be hard for people to swallow the idea that there was a massive fraud scheme if it turns out that, you know, they forgot as part of the scheme to make sure that the Democrats held the Senate, took the Senate and advanced their position in the House. So I just think, you know, it's very uphill.”
McCarthy also noted that the Trump campaign appeared to be retreating in some of their legal positions, seemingly indicating that they may be setting the table for Trump to concede, something Fox News would later report.
“What it looks like over the next few days, is that either the claims are collapsing or they simply don't have enough extent of fraud that they can actually challenge the margins by which they lost the states,” he observed. “I think then at a certain point it becomes hopeless and, you know, when it becomes hopeless and the president comes to terms with that, if that happens, I think he'll have to concede.”
Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley, who was one of the president’s impeachment witnesses, also expressed skepticism at the president’s chances that his lawsuits would go anywhere in the courts.
“We haven’t seen that evidence and until we do, they’re hunting elephants with derringers,” he stated. “We need something with a little more with a high-caliber if you’re going to take down an election result or determination. So we’re waiting for that evidence to come forward.”
Trump-boosting pundit Marc Thiessen, besides saying there’s been no proof of widespread fraud presented, congratulated Biden on his victory while saying he hopes the ex-veep can “bring people together.” The former George W. Bush speechwriter also heaped praise on Trump before citing reasons why he thinks the president lost, which notably didn’t include the election “shenanigans” Trump’s campaign and most loyal allies have claimed without evidence.
“The fact that it was so close shows that it was a winnable race and he lost,” he said. “And the reason I think he lost, if we go back and look at this race, the moment that he lost the race was September 29th in that first debate because there were—the people who decided this race in my view were the reluctant Trump voters.”
Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer, a former George W. Bush White House press secretary and Trump loyalist over the past four years, said on-air that he believed that the president would eventually concede and that he just needs a few days to process the whole situation.
“I believe in decency in all matters and I think the decent thing to do is let the president take the time he wants to absorb this,” Fleischer stated. “It is not easy. It is extraordinarily close. So if the president needs to take a few days or longer to absorb, ultimately accept and I think he ultimately will accept the outcome of the people.”
He would go on and say that Trump is “cut from a different cloth” and that it “would be a mistake to demand” him to quickly make a concession speech, adding that we should “let it go at the pace that keeps people together in this country.”
While on air Fox News was pushing back against Trump’s election fraud claims and pushing him to accept the loss, Trump loyalists at the network took to Twitter to parrot the president’s “stolen election” rhetoric on Saturday.
“The fight is not over,” Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren blared in a post flagged by Twitter as disinformation. “We won’t stop till voter fraud is exposed and ENDED! Our PRESIDENT @realDonaldTrump will keep fighting.”
And by Sunday morning, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was back to peddling conspiracies that liberal philanthropist George Soros—conservative media’s favorite bogeyman—had bankrolled the effort to steal the election from Trump.
“I think he would have to do a lot to convince Republicans that this is anything except a left-wing power grab financed by people like George Soros, deeply laid in at the local level,” Gingrich fumed. “And, frankly, I think that it is a corrupt, stolen election. It's very hard for me to understand how we're going to work together without some very, very big steps by Biden.”
(Fox & Friends Sunday host Jedediah Bila would push back on Gingrich, saying they “haven't seen evidence” of any “stolen election” funded by Soros.)
Moments later, of course, the outgoing president quoted extensively from Gingrich in a social-media rant to continue claiming the election was stolen from him. Twitter flagged the claims as “disputed.”