Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo will provide live commentary during Fox News’ election night coverage, giving one of the network’s biggest conspiracy theorists an opportunity to once again spread misinformation about voter fraud and other debunked ideas.
In the 2020 election cycle and its aftermath, Bartiromo repeatedly and baselessly questioned the reliability of Dominion voting machines and software, part of a pattern of coverage at Fox that led to the company bringing a defamation lawsuit against the network. . That litigation is ongoing, and Bartiromo has reportedly been called to be deposed in the case.
As Media Matters previously documented, Bartiromo amplified numerous conspiracy theories following the 2020 election, including providing a platform for Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Syndey Powell to spread bad information about Dominion Voting Systems. On November 8, 2020, 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,” including “an algorithm to calculate the votes they would need to flip, and they used the computers to flip those votes.” Bartiromo didn’t challenge the assertion. “If this is true, this appears systemic,” she responded.
Dominion’s lawyers noted in their lawsuit that Bartiromo knew Powell’s comments were “false, or recklessly disregarded the truth,” as she had previously discussed with former President Donald Trump that any perceived lead he had in voting could lessen as mail-in and absentee ballots were cast.
On November 12, 2020, Bartiromo interviewed Giuliani about Dominion, suggesting that the company had financial ties to foreign countries perceived to be hostile to the United States. “Are you seeing money coming from places like Venezuela and Cuba?” Bartiromo asked. In his halting, rambling response, Giuliani claimed Dominion is “a foreign company — that raises questions immediately, why are we having a foreign company do our elections? It is Canada — maybe.” He later characterized it as “a Venezuelan company that has Chinese parts in it.”
Three days later, on November 15, 2020, Bartiromo interviewed Powell again. During that interview, Powell claimed that there had been massive voter fraud, and that public officials in states that used Dominion systems were getting “kickbacks” for stealing the election for Biden. “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,” Powell said. The officials who supposedly stole the election got “substantial sums of money” laundered to them through family members, she said. Bartiromo didn’t challenge these preposterous allegations either.
In addition to amplifying Trump’s lawyers’ claims, Bartiromo also gave oxygen to a host of additional absurd conspiracy theories. On November 4, 2020, she claimed that “there were tons of ballots found under a rock in Arizona.” In fact, there were 18. On November 6, 2020, she promoted the so-called Sharpiegate conspiracy theory, which had already been repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers. On November 9, 2020, Bartiromo’s guests suggested that dead people were voting in large numbers. They were not. Later that month, Bartiromo allowed Trump to push his election denialist claims on her show, a programming decision Trump referred to as “brave.”
This pattern continued into December, when former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared on her show to lay out a number of already discredited conspiracy theories, including false claims of a trucker delivering ballots from New York to Pennsylvania and a rehash of the claim that voting machines were somehow controlled by foreign governments. The same month, she and Herschel Walker, now a Senate candidate in Georgia, spread lies about the 2020 election.
Bartiromo also played a direct role in questioning the results of the election. On November 9, 2020, she appeared as a guest on fellow Fox star Sean Hannity’s radio show. “I have not given up on [Attorney General] Bill Barr,” she said. “I am expecting a full-on investigation of these irregularities that we're seeing in terms of voting and the ballots.” On November 30, 2020, she said that Trump’s lawyers “say they have a stack of affidavits of people, sworn testimony that say that they saw the Dominion machines change votes."
On the day the Electoral College was scheduled to vote to confirm Joe Biden as the next president, Bartiromo claimed to have spoken “with one source high up in the intel community."
“He said, ‘Trump did win,” Bartiromo continued. “‘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’s false claims continued after the fascist insurrection on January 6, 2021. She alleged, without evidence, that “Democrats” in “MAGA clothing” were partially behind the attack. In interviews with Republican lawmakers after the attempted coup, she repeatedly claimed that “70% of Trump voters” believed the election was stolen, thereby offering a circular self-justification for continuing to push that incorrect information and excuse the riot. On Biden’s Inauguration Day, she failed to push back on numerous false claims put forward by Goya CEO Bob Unanue, including inflating the number of people who voted for Trump.
She continued pushing election denialist conspiracy theories throughout 2021. On March 16, 2021, she gave Trump another friendly interview filled with falsehoods about the election and Trump’s attempts to overturn it, including his pressure campaign against election officials in Georgia. Trump was back on her show in April of that year, repeating the lie that he won the election. In May 2021, she implied that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was wrong to keep “talking and pushing back on President Trump, who says the election was stolen” and that she “has not acknowledged the issue around mail-in ballots.” In July 2021, she encouraged Trump to lie about the number of votes he’d received and the states he claimed to have won.
Bartiromo's recent coverage of the midterms has been no different. In October, she pushed a conspiracy theory that Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke and requires auditory assistance, was being fed answers through a closed caption system he used during an NBC interview. Fox viewers can likely expect more of the same this election night.