As the votes were being counted in Georgia’s two runoff elections for the U.S. Senate, which now appear to be putting Democrats on track to gain a majority in the chamber, Fox News was busy fearmongering about nonexistent voter fraud — and even worrying about the large numbers of people voting.
Early in the night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson bemoaned the slow reporting of mail-in votes in the state. “In-person voting reduces fraud, and reducing fraud and the appearance of fraud was important to us,” Carlson said, going on to assert that despite the coronavirus pandemic, “there's no medical reason you can't vote in person. It's not inherently unsafe, obviously.”
Sean Hannity kicked off his show’s opening block with what might have seemed like a matter-of-fact update on the vote numbers with Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer — except that it also began with this comment by Hannity: “As we speak, all eyes are on DeKalb, Fulton County, which were wrought with irregularities, claims of fraud and abuse during the general election.”
Fox host Laura Ingraham spoke with Fox News correspondent Matt Finn about a dispute over the distances at which election observers were able to watch the ballots being processed in Fulton County. (The plight of poll watchers was also a topic of angst during the general election for some right-wing media figures, who often took crucial details out of context to push their claims.)
Finn reported that a judge had ordered a rearrangement of the facility so that observers could better watch the ongoing work, and just after midnight, Fox News anchor Shannon Bream followed up with him for a brief update. “Three observers I talked to say it might have been too little too late,” said Finn, “that it should’ve been done during the first hour.”
Also during the night, Trump retweeted a number of conspiracy theories from Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren, including her declaration, “The steal is in the making in Georgia,” and alleging that Democrats were “scrounging up votes from mystical places again.”
Early in the morning on Fox & Friends First, Fox News correspondent Charles Watson uncritically read a tweet that Trump had posted the night before decrying an alleged “‘voter dump’ against the Republican candidates,” with Watson saying that Trump was “weighing in this morning with more claims of voter fraud.”
This tweet was something of a step up in rhetoric from right-wing media attempts in November to discredit votes that were still being counted in the days after election night. In this case, Trump was in fact seeking to cast doubt on votes still being counted on election night itself.
Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain then denounced the “revolutionary change” of mail-in voting and suggested the high turnout in the race was itself suspicious.
Just to be clear, Georgia’s no-excuse absentee voting laws were first passed by state Republicans back in 2005. But in the wake of recent Democratic election victories in the state, both legislative Republicans and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger have been talking about rolling the system back.
Correction (5/13/21): This piece originally misidentified Bill Hemmer as Will Hemmer.