Election-denying extremist candidates Kari Lake and Doug Mastriano appear on Fox News for friendly interviews

Over the weekend, Fox News hosted two Republican gubernatorial candidates for friendly interviews: Doug Mastriano from Pennsylvania and Kari Lake from Arizona. Both Mastriano and Lake have ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement and extremist activists and are endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Mastriano, a QAnon supporter and January 6 insurrectionist, appeared on One Nation with Brian Kilmeade on Saturday evening, where he claimed, “There’s nothing extreme about me.”

Video file

Citation From the July 23, 2022, edition of Fox News' One Nation with Brian Kilmeade

[Transcript of Kilmeade's interview is available here]

Fox host Brian Kilmeade predictably did not ask about Mastriano’s campaign hiring Gab CEO Andrew Torba for “consulting” services. Gab is a social media platform and a haven for white supremacists, antisemites, and conspiracy theorists that has sponsored a white supremacist conference. Mastriano has done a praise-filled interview with Torba, who recently reposted claims that Jews are “subversive” and in control of the government, media, and financial institutions and blamed them for killing Jesus Christ. He also reposted a conspiracy theory blaming Jews for “white genocide,” praised Gab for offering “differing opinions” on the Holocaust, and singled out Jewish conservatives as unwelcome in the far-right movement. Mastriano’s links to Torba were even condemned by the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has a questionable track record on excusing antisemitism elsewhere in the right-wing movement.

Mastriano, a state senator in Pennsylvania, is himself an extremist and conspiracy theorist. He is one of Trump’s most vocal supporters, spreading election lies and attending the January 6 insurrection. He has also expressed support for the QAnon movement over 50 times on Twitter before deleting the tweets. Mastriano led the effort in Pennsylvania for a “forensic investigation” of the 2020 election results, similar to the QAnon-linked audit effort that took place in Arizona. He has also said that the U.S. should be “fearful” of “Muslims being elected to Congress,” repeatedly compared abortion rights to the Holocaust, and spread anti-vaccine lies on Facebook, falsely claiming that they kill people and cause autism.

Kilmeade concluded the interview by saying, “We’ll see if you can add governor to your resume, it’s already pretty long.”

The next day, Kari Lake, Republican candidate for governor in Arizona, appeared on Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, anchored by one of the network’s most extreme election conspiracy theorists. Discussing her rally with Trump during a July 22 event in Prescott Valley, Arizona, Lake said the event was “awesome” and “electric” and effusively praised the former president.

After a commercial break, Lake said Arizonans are “in imminent danger. We’re being invaded and there’s no time for delay” in taking action against immigrants at the Southern border.

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Citation From the July 24, 2022, edition of Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures

[Transcript of Bartiromo's interview with Lake is available here for part 1, and here for part 2]

Like Mastriano, Lake has her own ties to far-right extremism and conspiracy theories. CNN reported in November 2021 that Lake appeared at campaign events with a Nazi sympathizer and QAnon-linked figures. She has also seemingly paid for a verified account on Torba’s Gab.

A former local news anchor, Lake has made her name promoting Trump’s election lies. She is a regular guest on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, where she has expressed support for the QAnon-linked audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County, calling for similar efforts “in every county in Arizona” and saying “we need to decertify the election results in Arizona right away” due to unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.  (There is no legal pathway to decertify or change the results of a presidential election.)

Her conspiracy theories about the 2020 election are numerous: Lake pushed the debunked “Sharpiegate” conspiracy theory, which falsely claimed Sharpies were handed out at Maricopa County polling places to bleed through GOP voters’ ballots and exclude Republican votes from being counted. She has also cheered the bogus “forensic audit” seeking to overturn Trump’s loss in Maricopa County. Lake has said Biden did not get 81 million votes, called the election “corrupt” and “stolen,” claimed California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s victory in his 2021 recall election was “an impossibility,” and promoted Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy theories. (Fox is currently being sued for their promotion of these same lies about Dominion.)

Lake has also pushed lies about vaccines and COVID-19. She spoke at an anti-vaccine mandate rally in September of 2021, said it is “child abuse” to make children wear masks, promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic, claiming she herself was taking the drug, and said she has not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fox News’ embrace of two of the most extreme gubernatorial candidates in the 2022 elections effectively functions as a stamp of approval and further cements the network’s support for election lies and conspiracy theories behind the January 6 insurrection and other far-right movements.

In fact, Mastriano and Lake are both regular guests on One American News, where they have extensively pushed election denial and other extremism. This is further evidence that, as OAN loses its last cable distribution, Fox News is ready to follow in its footsteps.