In North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District -- where Republican Mark Harris seemingly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by less than 1,000 votes -- allegations of election fraud have been deemed serious enough that a bipartisan election board has refused to certify the results. Instead, the bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement voted to hear evidence about “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities” in the election. Fox News has almost completely ignored the allegations, despite the network’s usual interest in baseless fearmongering about “voter fraud.”
In the aftermath of the November election, state officials are investigating reports that hundreds of absentee ballots from 9th District voters in Bladen and Robeson counties “were illegally cast or destroyed.” One Bladen County voter, Datesha Montgomery, recounted that a woman came to her door and said she was collecting ballots in the area. When Montgomery explained that she had completed votes for only two of the races, the woman remarked that the other races weren’t important and said that she would finish the ballot for Montgomery. It is illegal in North Carolina to take someone else’s ballot and turn it in.
Additionally, a significant percentage of absentee ballots were requested but not cast in Bladen and Robeson counties -- more so than in any other county in the 9th District -- and Raleigh's The News & Observer found that “the unreturned ballots are disproportionately associated with minority voters.” In light of such accusations, election experts in North Carolina have noted that the Republican candidate received an unexpected proportion of absentee ballot votes in Bladen County: Harris received 61 percent of mail-in votes, but, as The New Yorker points out, only 19 percent of voters in Bladen County are registered Republicans. While the state’s election board hasn’t officially accused anyone of wrongdoing at this point, its refusal to certify the election results suggests that the board takes seriously the possibility that partisan actors collected and trashed absentee ballots of 9th District voters, possibly even filling out and casting ballots for them.
Despite the extremely serious nature of these allegations, and the wealth of evidence backing them up, Fox News has almost entirely ignored the story.
Fox has mentioned the allegations only once on air since the state election board announced it was investigating the results on November 27. Host Bret Baier spent less than 30 seconds discussing the story on Fox’s Special Report, but he did note that the state election board voted “to hear evidence on alleged absentee ballot irregularities.” Fox also posted one article about the story and one associated video on FoxNews.com.
Fox’s close-lipped stance is particularly noteworthy given the network’s major focus on right-wing allegations of voter fraud. Fox is more than happy to push dubious or baseless allegations of fraud and then quietly move on once they fall apart. For years, Fox guests and hosts have spewed voter fraud conspiracy theories, some of which are rooted in obvious racism, and many of which are used to argue for voter suppression tactics. The vast majority of Fox’s accusations fall flat, largely because in-person voter impersonation fraud -- the type that right-wing pundits most commonly fearmonger about -- is virtually nonexistent, and other types of fraud are exceedingly rare.
Fox’s interest in election integrity seems to cover only instances of alleged voter fraud by Democrats and not cases of apparent election fraud by partisan operatives who may have stolen, trashed, or illegally cast voters’ ballots. The network’s indifference is noteworthy, but it’s unsurprising given the close relationship between Fox News and the Republican Party.
Methodology: Media Matters searched Snapstream for mentions of McCready, North Carolina, Bladen, Robeson, ninth district, 9th district, and Harris (controlling for mentions of Fox’s Harris Faulkner) on Fox News from November 27 through the time of publication.