On October 24, Fox’s midterm closer Sean Hannity hosted a supposed “town hall” event in Scottsdale, Arizona, with Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. With two weeks to the election, Fox’s prime-time hosts are all-in for Lake, interviewing her 7 times in the last week, while calling her a “rising star” and defending her from being called an “election denier.”
Hannity has held three so-called “town hall” events in the last eight days to promote and spoon-feed GOP candidates and their talking points. Hannity hosted Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker for what amounted to a TV rally, with the candidate speaking only 8 minutes in total during the hourlong event. Hannity’s “town hall” for Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz featured the host coaching Oz on Hannity’s “top issues,” including “woke education” and “wide-open borders.”
Lake was Hannity’s latest “town hall” guest. She has made 2020 election denial central to her campaign, amplifying baseless conspiracy theories about ballot security and vowing to crack down on the near nonexistent problem if elected governor. Lake has refused to confirm that she would honor the results of her election if she loses, and recently said she would accept the result only if “we have a fair, honest and transparent election," mirroring an established pattern for GOP candidates. Lake has utilized fringe right-wing media throughout her campaign, and she found an especially warm welcome from QAnon and white nationalist-linked programs. This summer, Lake made headlines for endorsing, then unendorsing, an openly antisemitic streamer turned Oklahoma Republican legislative candidate who said “the Jews” are evil. She also praised a Nazi sympathizer at a campaign event.
In the last week, Fox News figures have interviewed Kari Lake 7 times, culminating in the supposed “town hall" with Hannity:
- Fox host Tucker Carlson opened his October 20 show with a monologue that The Washington Post’s Philip Bump described as depicting “the erosion of American democracy, in one short cable segment,” followed by an interview with Lake. Carlson relentlessly mocked mainstream media for calling Lake an “election denier,” and said she “may be the most skillful communicator in politics.” Carlson instructed his audience not to trust the election result unless Lake wins and primed viewers to expect fraud by seizing on an innocent ballot printing error saying, “There's no proof this was deliberate, but it kind of undercuts the whole ‘election denier’ attack when you send out thousands of faulty ballots a few weeks before the election.” Carlson ended his interview with Lake, “They call you an extremist. I can't imagine a more moderate and sensible message than the one you are delivering.”
- On October 21, Fox host Laura Ingraham opened her show by mocking mainstream media for calling Lake an “election denier.” Introducing Lake for an interview, Ingraham declared, “The time for appeasement is over,” and said Lake is “offering kind of a masterclass in how to put the media back on its heels.” Ingraham conceded, “I wasn’t, you know, on your band wagon during the primary, for sure, but I’m watching you take on the media and the only other person who’s done it like you is DeSantis and Trump.” Ingraham later mentioned the ballot printing error Carlson weaponized the night before, which Lake used to attack her opponent Katie Hobbs, calling her “incompetent." During parts of the interview, the news chyron read “Kari Lake fearless in race for Arizona governor” and “Kari Lake scares the left and for good reason.” Ingraham concluded the interview, “Kari, I can't wait to see how it plays out. If I don't talk to you before election night, and we very well may talk to you before election night, I think you’re going to win this. Best of luck out there. Keep fighting.”
- Host Dan Bongino interviewed Lake on his October 22 Fox News show Unfiltered with Dan Bongino, introducing her as a “rising star” and “a champion for liberty.” Bongino also ridiculed mainstream media for calling Lake an “election denier” and gave credence to her voter fraud conspiracies, saying, “You brought out the receipts and showed them who the real election deniers was. … I don't see you as dangerous. I see you as a champion for liberty out there espousing liberty-based ideas.” Bongino also praised a past interview with Lake on his radio show and added, “I get more emails about you than almost any other candidate in America. Thanks for what you’re doing.”
- Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo hosted Lake on Sunday Morning Futures on October 23 for a softball interview to decry Democratic immigration policies and the “wide open” border. Bartiromo also complained about Hobbs threatening to sue an Arizona county over its proposal to count ballots only by hand. Bartiromo asked Lake, “What's wrong with the hand count?” (Election experts say it’s a “bad idea.”) Lake used Bartiromo’s question to cast doubt on election security, asking if Hobbs is “afraid it won’t match with the electronic voting machine.”
- The morning of the so-called “town hall," Fox’s weekday morning show Fox & Friends gave Lake an open platform to attack Hobbs for refusing to participate in a debate. Host Ainsley Earhardt asked, “Why are they doing this? Did this start during the pandemic when we saw Joe Biden campaigning from the basement?” Earhardt also asked about rumors that Lake could be considered as Trump’s 2024 running mate.
- Hours before the “town hall,” Hannity also interviewed Lake on his radio show. Hannity and Lake repeatedly attacked Hobbs over immigration and abortion. Hannity also brought up the security of elections and said Democrats “don’t want integrity in our elections.” Lake agreed, “You laid it out as concisely as I've ever heard it laid out.”
- Lake’s Fox-filled week ended with Hannity flying to Arizona to conduct the next leg of his midterm tour in the form of a glorified campaign rally with Lake and GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters. Hannity opened the event with a lengthy monologue attacking Hobbs for refusing to debate. Hannity and Lake attacked Hobbs for not supporting tax cuts and fearmongered that she supports “infanticide” and abortion “up until the moment the baby is born and then after.” After attacking Hobbs the entire event for supporting a supposedly “wide open” border, Lake ended the “town hall” promising she would issue a “declaration of invasion” in the first hour after taking office, which Fox has avidly lobbied for.