On Monday night, in the wake of Fox News’ decision desk calling Arizona for Joe Biden on election night, CNN’s Brian Stelter performed one of the great reversals in recent media history, lauding Fox News, which he has constantly slammed for years, for its “great decision desk.”
As Newsbusters reported, Stelter was speaking with Newsmax’s CEO Chris Ruddy, who noted that Trump was disappointed in Fox News for the role its decision desk played with the results of the election. Ruddy commented, “They called Arizona with 14 percent of the vote in. Many other networks never called it. Meanwhile, they wouldn’t call Florida for hours. Why? What was going on at Fox News that they didn’t want to give the president the sense that he was winning or had the potential shot of winning?”
Stelter, suddenly enamored with Fox News, replied, “Fox has a great decision desk. I respect their decision desk. They don’t — they don’t — they don’t do it like that. They don’t play games like that, Chris.”
Only two days before the presidential election, Stelter ranted against Fox News, claiming that they were misleading voters. He stated:
Here’s what’s important to recognize: all the pre-election horse-race polls have Trump trailing Joe Biden badly nationally. Even, here it is: the most recent Fox News poll. If Trump squeaks out a victory it won’t change the fact that a majority of the American people strongly disapprove of him. But: here’s the important media story: but on Fox, it is all about that so-called “silent majority” of Trump support. The poll I just showed you? It barely gets any attention compared to the hours and hours of pro-Trump talk on Fox, leaving viewers with the distinct impression that he is a lot more popular than he really is.
And this matters because Fox viewers are being misled about Trump’s chances of winning the election. If he does lose it’ll prove that Fox and his flacks like Sean Hannity did him a huge disservice these last four years by protecting his ego, providing a safe space, guarding him and his fans from the truth.
The transcript of the Stelter-Ruddy exchange is below:
STELTER: So, you mentioned a possible business partner. Do you want to partner with him for Trump TV?
RUDDY: I certainly would love to have Donald Trump on Newsmax a lot whether he’s president or not. I think he’s great television ratings. I mean, this guy, 15 years TV star in Apprentice, nobody has a hit show for 15 years. Look at the crowds he draws. He is very great TV personality. I think he’s great to have part of Newsmax and we’re certainly looking forward to having him on.
STELTER: When you spoke this week, did you all talk about this possibility?
RUDDY: No, we didn’t, but we did talk about Fox News and he’s very disappointed in Fox News at very crucial moments. The debate Chris Wallace is moderating was terrible. It really hurt, I think, the President. And then, you know, they call the election.
They called Arizona with 14 percent of the vote in. Many other networks never called it. Meanwhile, they wouldn’t call Florida for hours. Why? What was going on at Fox News that they didn’t want to give the president the sense that he was winning or had the potential shot of winning?
STELTER: Fox has a great decision desk. I respect their decision desk. They don’t — they don’t — they don’t do it like that. They don’t play games like that, Chris.
RUDDY: I think media malpractice. Let’s look at the Fox News poll. It was off by what, eight points? Almost every poll was — the data coming out of Fox was not good at all.
STELTER: Yes, we’re going to get into polls, but the Fox — the Fox polls are scientific. They were trying their best.
Stelter is the same person who blamed President Trump and Fox News for the Pittsburgh massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in October 2018. Appearing as a guest with CNN hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman, he noted the Pittsburgh shooter calling migrants “invaders,” then said the shooter was “using the same dehumanizing language that’s been saturating right-wing radio and TV.”
Stelter continued, “We may never know where the suspect heard these ideas or why he believed them. But we do know that the hate crime coincided with a rise in hateful language, from the Infowars fringe to Fox’s primetime lineup. Almost as soon as the migrant caravan formed in Central America, Fox News, talking heads, and President Trump made it out to be a major threat.”
Stelter concluded, “We can talk about fear-mongering; we can talk about the ridiculousness of this rhetoric; it is effective among some people. I sure hope some of those Fox hosts, some of those commentators take a moment, take a minute to think about their role in this environment. Hopefully there is some soul-searching right now in the wake of this massacre in Pittsburgh.”