It used to be that Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo would spread all manner of conspiracy theories about supposed “fraud” being committed by Democrats. But when a Republican campaign got in trouble for turning in fake signatures in order to get on the ballot, she can’t even say the word.
The Michigan gubernatorial race was recently shaken up when five Republican candidates were simultaneously disqualified from the primary ballot, after the Board of State Canvassers found evidence of fraud committed by paid signature gatherers. To be clear, the board stated it did “not have reason to believe that any specific candidates or campaigns were aware” of the alleged forgeries, but at the end of the day those candidates were responsible for submitting legally valid signatures, and the state Supreme Court upheld that decision.
One of those disqualified candidates is former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who has also been a frequent Fox News guest. Based on Media Matters’ internal database, Craig has appeared at least 68 times on Fox’s weekday programming since October 2019. His appearances have included spreading conspiracy theories about Black Lives Matter protests, as well as the network’s efforts to deflect blame from the recent mass shooting by a white supremacist in Buffalo, New York. (For example, Craig invoked the supposed “crime” of recent nonviolent protests outside Supreme Court justices’ homes.)
In Bartiromo’s telling, however, there may be a conspiracy afoot specifically targeting Craig to keep him off the ballot. When she interviewed Craig on her Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures, she suggested, “Somebody does not want you to get to higher office,” and asked him, “Are they trying to steal your election?”
Bartiromo interviewed him again Tuesday morning, with the Fox anchor alleging that Craig was “being stopped” from running for governor. She also appeared to stumble over her words in explaining why Craig and other GOP candidates were being kept off the ballot, before eventually saying that his ballot petitions had been “wrong” in some manner.
Bartiromo never had trouble using the word “fraud” before. For example, in November 2020 she provided scripted questions for her upcoming interview with then-President Donald Trump, during his efforts to overturn his defeat in the election.
“Mr. President, you have said many times that this election was rigged, that there was much fraud, and the facts are on your side,” Bartiromo opened the interview, teeing up Trump to air a litany of lies about the election results in an interview that went on for 45 minutes.
But now that the fraud involves people who were hired by Republican political campaigns — even as the campaigns were being defrauded — Bartiromo has not only become tongue-tied, but she considers it an outrage when the courts follow election laws to disqualify the fraudulent acts.