With Fox News ditching a whole programming block of its official “news” coverage — reportedly at the urging of Rupert Murdoch himself — in order to compete with its emerging far-right competitors, one name is standing out among the possible replacements for the new weeknight “opinion” slot: financial news anchor Maria Bartiromo.
Bartiromo is set begin her audition week tonight, though Business Insider reports that she is “having trouble getting CEOs” to appear with her, according to sources, due to concerns about how appearing on her show might affect their own images. One financial executive said: “Everything she does fuses into politics. She's become unmoored.”
By potentially elevating Bartiromo, Fox really would be going toe-to-toe with the top conspiracy theorists at Newsmax and OAN. Far from being a regular financial news reporter with conservative leanings, she has in fact used her show to promulgate some of the most outlandish — and repeatedly debunked — conspiracy theories of the Trump era, ranging from the Russia scandal at the dawn of his presidency in 2016 to the far-out tales of computer manipulation of votes in the election that ended it in 2020.
Bartiromo has already attracted media attention for the degree to which she has descended from a status as “respected finance reporter to Trump apologist.” But even as the network is still reportedly trying to pitch advertisers that she is part of a roster that brings “hard-hitting journalism,” the Fox Business personality is now one of several people set to have an audition run on the new opinion timeslot, which would effectively be a promotion into Fox News prime time from her weekday Fox Business gig, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo.
And according to The Washington Post, news division staffers aren’t happy about the move — especially in the wake of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which was fueled by former President Donald Trump’s propaganda campaign against the election result. This campaign was also very much aided by Fox News itself.
“It is ludicrous and disheartening that we are rewarding [Bartiromo] with a prime-time spot,” one staffer told the Post, “knowing full well she is among the most responsible for propagating the big election lie.”
Bartiromo was a key promoter of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell’s conspiracy theories about voting machines
Bartiromo gave multiple interviews in November 2020 to Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani and their ally Sidney Powell, who promoted a web of debunked theories alleging that machines from Dominion Voting Systems had altered votes for Trump in order to produce Biden’s victory. (Just to be clear: The hand recount of paper ballots in the swing state of Georgia did not significantly change the results, affirming Biden’s narrow win in that state.)
On November 8, Powell told Bartiromo that “there had been a massive and coordinated effort to steal this election from we the people of the United States of America,” using methods ranging from fraudulently created ballots to “an algorithm to calculate the votes they would need to flip, and they used the computers to flip those votes.” Bartiromo did not push back on these claims, instead credulously repeating Powell’s allegations and saying, “If this is true, this appears systemic.”
- On November 11, Bartiromo falsely asserted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) family had a financial interest in Dominion, while Powell claimed that China was behind the voting machines company and “has the greatest interest in the world in disrupting this election.”
- On November 12, Bartiromo asked Giuliani about Dominion’s finances: “Are you seeing money coming from places like Venezuela and Cuba?” Giuliani claimed that Dominion is “a foreign company — that raises questions immediately, why are we having a foreign company do our elections? It is Canada — maybe,” but by the end of the discussion he was calling it “a Venezuelan company that has Chinese parts in it.”
- On November 15, Giuliani alleged that Dominion was linked to another company, Smartmatic, which also became a subject of right-wing conspiracy theories about election fraud. In addition to alleging that the voting machines were a front for the Venezuelan regime of the late dictator Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, Giuliani alleged a connection to another figure, who is frequently the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: “The chairman of Smartmatic is a close business associate of George Soros, I have to tell you more?”
- Also on November 15, Powell alleged on Bartiromo’s show that “President Trump won by not just hundreds of thousands of votes, but by millions of votes, that were shifted by this software that was designed expressly for that purpose.” She went on to accuse the public officials in states using Dominion voting machines of receiving “substantial sums of money” via their family members, with Bartiromo treating all of these absurd conspiracy theories as being credible allegations.
- On November 20, when a schism began to emerge in right-wing media over Powell’s many claims — brought into full public view by a feud with Fox News host Tucker Carlson — Bartiromo brought Powell on to tell her side of the interactions with Carlson and his staff. Bartiromo further asked Powell whether she would be able to provide all her evidence, to which Powell responded, “We can't even keep up with the witnesses that are calling in and wanting to give affidavits and provide evidence.” Powell then said that this was “very early in the stage of any case, aside from one of this massive magnitude,” calling the 2020 election “the biggest worldwide corruption fraud ever exposed.”
The Dominion company is now suing both Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, seeking damages of $1.3 billion from each of them. The company further states “there are mountains of direct evidence that conclusively disprove Powell’s vote manipulation claims against Dominion — namely, the millions of paper ballots that were audited and recounted by bipartisan officials and volunteers in Georgia and other swing states, which confirmed that Dominion accurately counted votes on paper ballots.” Many of Powell and Giuliani’s false claims referenced in the lawsuit were also aired on multiple Fox programs, including on Bartiromo’s shows.
In addition, when various Fox programs ran a short segment correcting a number of falsehoods about the Smartmatic company — in response to a threatened lawsuit — Bartiromo added at the end of her own show’s airing of the clip: “We will keep investigating.”
Bartiromo insists “there was election fraud,” wants people sent to prison over Trump losing in 2020
- The morning after the election, Trump campaign pollster Jim McLaughlin accused the officials at a vote-counting center in Philadelphia of planning to manufacture enough votes for Biden to overcome Trump’s apparent statewide lead. Bartiromo’s response was to call for the Trump administration to mobilize police forces to interrupt the ongoing vote count: “Unbelievable. … Can they get away with that, Jim? I mean do you feel that the administration has the policing in place to make sure that America will feel that we have gotten a safe and fair election?”
- Bartiromo appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show on November 9 — two days after the national news media had collectively projected Biden as the winner of the election. Biden had even delivered a victory speech that weekend. But from Bartiromo’s perspective, this wasn’t over, because she said she hoped then-Attorney General Bill Barr might put a stop to it. “I have not given up on Bill Barr and his motivations,” she said. “I do believe he wants justice, and he will do the right thing. So, I am expecting a full-on investigation of these irregularities that we're seeing in terms of voting and the ballots. That needs to play out.” (In the weeks to come, Barr said there was no evidence of the scale of voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election, and “no basis” for the federal government to seize the voting machines, as Giuliani and other Trump allies had called for doing.)
- Bartiromo spoke on December 8 with Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich, who pushed a stream of debunked conspiracy theories about the vote counts in various swing states. Gingrich baselessly claimed the outcomes “were rigged” and that voting results “went through Barcelona, Spain, to Frankfurt, Germany to be counted. I mean, there're so many things wrong with this election, that it's astonishing.” Bartiromo responded: “Yeah, well, it really is. And people need to understand that any election fraud carries a 5 to 10-year jail sentence.”
- On December 14, the day that the Electoral College members across the country voted to formalize Biden’s win, Bartiromo made allegations that the Justice Department and other officials were deliberately letting all this malfeasance go by: “And I spoke with one source high up in the intel community, and he said this … ‘Trump did win. There was election fraud, but to prove it requires the FBI and the DOJ to drill down on all of the election fraud issues related to voter and ballot issues. They're not doing it because the wrong people run the place, and they didn't want Trump to win. Now they've run out the clock with the Electoral College here.’”
- Bartiromo spoke on December 18 with Trump supporter and former NFL player Herschel Walker, during which the two of them repeatedly discussed the need to send the alleged election thieves to prison.
Bartiromo refused to give up hope that the election would be “overturned”
- On November 16, over a week after the news media — including Fox — had projected Biden as the winner, Bartiromo confidently announced the Trump campaign’s message that “the 2020 election will be overturned.” Her sources for this news headline segment included an interview she had conducted with Powell the day before, as well as a Trump tweet that declared, “I concede NOTHING!”
- Bartiromo interviewed Trump on November 29, his first TV interview since the election. The defeated president offered a litany of false allegations about the election — which went unchallenged by Bartiromo, who went on to claim that Biden’s victory represented a set of “impossible statistics.”
- During that same interview, Bartiromo responded to Trump’s tirade against supposed voter fraud by declaring, “This is disgusting. And we cannot allow America's election to be corrupted. We cannot. So, you believe you can prove that the computers can circumvent any controls that are in place.”
- Then on December 14, the day when members of the Electoral College voted across the country, Bartiromo repeatedly claimed that an “intel source” had told her that “President Trump did in fact win the election.”
- Also that morning, she asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) about efforts by congressional Republicans to reject the electoral votes. “Is it the end of the line for the president's campaign to stop and overturn this election, as the Electoral College will meet,” Bartiromo asked, “or are you looking at January 6 as a pivotal date, or what?”
Not even the January 6 insurrection has put a stop to Bartiromo’s election conspiracy theories
Even in the aftermath of the violence on that “pivotal date” — so much of which was built on Trump’s and right-wing media’s propaganda campaign to delegitimize the election result — Bartiromo did not let up in her own efforts on that front.
- When she returned from vacation on January 10, Bartiromo asked Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones (R): “And what is your take on what just took place in Georgia? Seventy percent of Trump voters feel unsatisfied. They never got the investigation they wanted. They still believe the election was stolen. Let’s just be clear.” (Georgia’s Republican election officials had investigated and publicly debunked numerous allegations made by the Trump campaign.)
- On the January 11 edition of her Fox Business show, Bartiromo defended the congressional Republicans who had led the effort to reject the election result and tried to shift the burden of proof over to the Democrats: “This was simply to make sure that the 70-plus percent of Trump voters and the 36% of all voters who questioned the integrity of the election had an investigation that was real and that looked at those irregularities. So it’s a head-scratcher why they wouldn’t just want to see an investigation.”
- During the same discussion, she also denounced the ongoing decisions by major corporations to stop giving campaign donations to members of Congress who had supported the rejection effort. “And by the way, they are representing their constituents,” Bartiromo said of the affected Republicans. “You still have 50 million-plus Americans who do not believe in the election and say that there was irregularities and fraud.”
- Bartiromo has also helped Trump supporters deflect from the core issue of the violence at the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. The day after the House of Representatives impeached Trump on the charge of inciting the insurrection, she hosted Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed that it was Democrats who “did violence to this country” by attacking Trump, “who I believe was legally elected on November 3.” In response, Bartiromo simply repeated the talking point about Trump supporters not believing the election result.
- On the weekend before the inauguration, Bartiromo repeated her talking point of Trump supporters feeling “robbed” in a conversation with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) who was condemning the January 6 insurrectionists.
- And on the day before Biden’s inauguration, Bartiromo reported on security measures being taken to prevent far-right militants from infiltrating into the National Guard for the event, baselessly alleging that “Democrats infiltrated [the crowd of Trump supporters] two weeks ago and put on MAGA clothing.”
- On the morning of Inauguration Day, Bartiromo hosted Goya Foods CEO Bob Unanue, who spun an elaborate conspiracy theory about Biden’s victory “ushering in the dawn of a new world order, this Great Reset, with an unverified election” and falsely claimed that “80 million people” had voted for Trump. Bartiromo did not push back on any of these claims.
Bartiromo’s COVID-19 misinformation
- In March 2020, Bartiromo and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) repeatedly pushed the theory that the novel coronavirus had escaped from a laboratory in China — with the two of them citing the same prestigious medical journal that had previously denounced that theory. (Genome analysis has consistently shown that the coronavirus evolved naturally and was not man-made.)
- Bartiromo continued to promote the false claim that the virus came from a lab in China.
- In March 2020, Bartiromo promoted a “herd immunity strategy” to encourage the spread of COVID-19 throughout the population, rather than shutting down economic activity: “Move in herds, and everybody gets it.”
- In December 2020, Bartiromo again suggested that the coronavirus had been purposefully released, then parlaying this accusation to declare that the Supreme Court had to take up Republican legal challenges to throw out absentee voting changes during the pandemic — or else China would win: “And don’t forget, we know that China unleashed this virus on the world — they say it was accidental, but we don’t know if it was an intentional act or not. If the Supreme Court allows this to stay, in some way they are saying China was able to do what it wanted to do — causing chaos, forcing states to change the way we vote.”
Bartiromo’s long, obsessive quest for indictments against the Trump/Russia investigators
Bartiromo was known during the Trump years for her obsequious interviews with the then-president, praising him for being “tough” and assisting him both before and after the 2020 election in waging a propaganda campaign against mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
She also mounted a major push against all those investigations going on into Trump, weaving tales of the “deep state” and seeking to purge government figures who she saw as insufficiently loyal and not doing enough to discredit the investigations into Russian intervention in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, which Bartiromo frequently refers to as a “hoax.”
- Bartiromo insisted in March 2019 that the Trump/Russia probe had “no predicate,” and had “nothing to base it on, other than the flimsy dossier” from Christopher Steele. In fact, the later Horowitz report confirmed that the 2016 probe was already underway before the Steele dossier even became known to investigators.
- Bartiromo has long repeated the claim that Joseph Mifsud, the missing Maltese professor believed to have been a connection between the Russian government and former Trump aide George Papadopoulos, was really a U.S. government source working as part of an elaborate entrapment plot against the Trump campaign. Bartiromo suggested this during an October 2019 interview with Papadopoulos, and in another interview with him again in December 2020. (The Horowitz report in December 2019 found no evidence to support this allegation.)
- In October 2019, Bartiromo ridiculed the impeachment inquiry into Trump over the Ukraine scandal, saying that “they are trying hard to come up with something against President Trump right now, and completely ignoring what we already know was some wrongdoing by some key players in our intel agencies back in the election year of 2016.”
- Axios recently reported that Bartiromo’s coverage helped to inspire Trump’s distrust in his own appointee, CIA Director Gina Haspel, after “publicly raising doubts in his mind about her” and contributing to efforts to force her to resign. For example, Bartiromo had suggested during an interview with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on October 13 that “Gina Haspel could be part of this conspiracy as well” because she was “blowing off your calls, from you and other Republican senators, to hand over Russiagate documents.” Then on October 14, Bartiromo further added: “We're literally 20 days from an election, four years after this coup started and we still don't have the documents that the FBI continues to sit on and that Gina Haspel at the CIA is trying hard not to release.”
- In her October 2020 interview with Trump, Bartiromo repeated the claim that “it was Hillary Clinton's idea to tie you to Russia in some way” — based on a selective declassification by Trump’s Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, which was previously rejected by both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee “as having no factual basis” and being a piece of Russian disinformation meant to distract from that country’s role in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails in 2016.
- Despite the mountain of evidence that the Russian government had supported Trump’s candidacy in 2016, Bartiromo has not given up hope of disproving it all. “There is also exculpatory evidence that shows Russia was not supporting Trump,” she tweeted this past October, alleging that this intelligence material “was supposed to be declassified but deep state is keeping it under wraps.”
- By December 2020, she was reaching her limit. “Who got to Bill Barr?” she asked Ratcliffe, regarding the continued delays in yet another special investigation into the Russia probes. “It seems like it’s an about-face, we were expecting a real investigation into what took place and why Crossfire Hurricane — the investigation into Donald Trump — still has no accountability.”
- On the final weekend before Biden’s inauguration, Bartiromo aggressively questioned Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about whether he’d done enough to “declassify the Russiagate transcripts before the election. Was there anything you could have done differently to make people feel that there was accountability for an effort to take down a candidate and then a sitting president with the whole Russia hoax nonsense?” She also asked of Trump’s former Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, “Will we see indictments in the Russia hoax criminal investigation?”
- On the morning of Inauguration Day, Bartiromo claimed that Trump was really the target of so many investigations because he had come so close to busting the vast corruption in Washington itself.
Bartiromo got warmed up for her big week — with a continued stream of conspiracy theories
And just a look at the latest episode her Sunday Morning Futures show can help to illustrate all these problems. The show included:
- A discussion with discredited columnist John Solomon, claiming that the entire Trump/Russia investigation from 2016 began as an orchestrated frame-up effort by allies of the Hillary Clinton campaign. (How it actually began: The FBI had received a tip from an official with a “Friendly Foreign Government” — now widely known to be Alexander Downer, then the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom and a retired conservative politician — that Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos had told him that “the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama).”)
- During the same discussion, speculation that figures behind the Trump/Russia investigation will soon be indicted by special counsel John Durham — who is actually the second person tasked by the former Trump administration with investigating the Trump/Russia investigators, following two prior reports by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
- Continued spreading of the conspiracy theory with Sen. Cotton that the coronavirus originated from a laboratory in China.
- Bartiromo then repeated to Cotton the claims made by former Trump administration Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, “accusing career analysts and Congress of under-playing the Chinese influence in the 2020 election as well.”