Fox covers Maricopa County election issues with unsupported fearmongering

Fox News anchor Bret Baier pushed unfounded talking points about tabulation issues reported in Maricopa County, Arizona, saying that “for it to happen here, for it to happen now, in this way, is kind of strange.” The most populous county in the state, Maricopa was the subject of debunked election conspiracy theories in 2020 and the site of the bogus “forensic audit” in 2021.

Anchor Martha MacCallum later said, “I agree with Bret. Everybody knew this was coming,” adding, “They have to be ready for this, especially in places where you had so much concern and anxiety the last time around, OK? So this to me is next to inexcusable.” MacCallum did not include any context about the “concern and anxiety” in 2020 being driven by the Trump campaign, which was then boosted by Fox News coverage.

Fox anchor Harris Faulkner opened the segment on the Election Day edition of Outnumbered by citing election denier and Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake using the reports to call for “election reform.” Baier then shared an anecdote in which he claimed without evidence that his friend had her ballot rejected 20 times when she tried to vote in Scottsdale, and later baselessly claimed that any voting issue on Election Day only “goes one way,” suggesting Republican ballots were being targeted.

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Citation From the November 8, 2022 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered

All morning, right-wing media outlets and influencers have been pushing conspiracy theories about voting issues on the ground in Maricopa County, suggesting delays and broken tabulators are evidence that Democrats are engaged in voter fraud and trying to steal the election. 

Maricopa County’s official Twitter account has addressed these reports, confirming the issue and clarifying that a password had been entered incorrectly too many times at a voting location in Phoenix, resulting in a short lockout from the machine. The account also tweeted about delays, saying, “More than 200 Vote Center locations are currently showing under 30 min wait times, and about 160 are under 10 mins,” and sharing a link to the official county elections website that shows wait times at all voting locations.

Baier and MacCallum repeatedly pushed misinformation and partisan analysis related to the 2020 presidential election both on-air and behind the scenes. 

Baier reportedly emailed Fox president and executive editor Jay Wallace pressuring him to rescind calling Arizona for Joe Biden, accusing the network’s Decision Desk of “holding on” to the call “for pride,” and claiming that “it’s hurting us” and is “really uncomfortable” to “defend this on air.”

Also during the 2020 cycle, MacCallum misled viewers about “864 dead people” voting in Michigan, a false claim which she later was forced to correct. In another instance, she blamed “both sides” for Trump’s failure to admit defeat.