Media magnate Rupert Murdoch made the final decision for Fox News to call Arizona for Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election, a move that infuriated Donald Trump, according to a report in Business Insider.
Fox News denies the allegations in journalist Michael Wolff’s book.
“This never happened and is completely untrue,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement.
Wolff writes in his new book “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” that Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO of Fox Corporation and Rupert’s son, was notified that the network’s election desk was prepared to call Arizona for Democratic candidate Biden shortly after 11 p.m. on election night – before any other network had made the call.
According to an early copy of the book obtained by Insider, when Lachlan called his father on whether to make the early call, “his father, with signature grunt, assented,” and added an epithet.
Wolff writes that after the conversation between the Murdochs, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer notified Jason Miller, then-lead social media strategist for President Trump, to let him know of the network’s decision to call Arizona for Biden.
During the call with Hemmer, Wolff wrote, Miller rose from his seat and uttered an epithet while surveilling a group of Trump campaign staffers unaware of the call Fox News was about to make.
“That’s what they’re doing. That’s what they’re going with,” Hemmer allegedly responded to Miller.
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Wolff does not cite any sources for conversation between the Murdochs, but he has previously defended reporting on the book, saying that events involving Trump’s staff were confirmed by several sources.
The controversial decision to call Arizona for Biden enraged Trump and his campaign officials, some of whom called for Rupert Murdoch to reverse the network’s call.
Trump personally called Murdoch, screamed at him and demanded a retraction, according to a report in Vanity Fair. Murdoch refused to retract the decision.
Fox News put the head of its decision desk, Arnon Mishkin, on air to defend the call.
During Trump’s first bid for the White House, Fox News championed his campaign. However, during Trump’s re-election bid, Murdoch complained Trump would lose due to his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.