Bret Baier wanted Fox News to retract its early call of Arizona for Biden, book alleges
Baier accused the Decision Desk staff of "holding on for pride," the book says.
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Fox News anchor Bret Baier wanted the network to pull its early call of Arizona for Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election amid criticism from the Trump campaign, a new book alleges.
In "The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021," authors Peter Baker and Susan Glasser say that Baier urged the network to back off of its electoral call and cited an email he wrote to a network executive.
"'The Trump campaign was really pissed,' he wrote in an email to Jay Wallace, the president and executive editor at Fox," the book reads, per Business Insider. "This situation is getting uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. I keep having to defend this on air."
Fox's Decision Desk called the state for Biden early in the night, prompting outrage from the Trump campaign, which insisted that the former president would triumph in the state once all of the mail-in ballots were tallied.
Baier accused the Decision Desk staff of "holding on for pride," the book says. "It's hurting us," Baier reportedly insisted. "The sooner we pull it — even if it gives us major egg — and we put it back in his column the better we are in my opinion."
"The leading news anchor for Fox was pushing not just to say Arizona was too close to call but to pretend that the president had won it," the authors said of that exchange. Baier, via a spokesperson, told Business Insider that the book took the comment out of context.
The book then goes on to assert that Wallace ultimately forbade the outlet from calling Nevada for Biden because he "did not want Fox to be the first to call the election and declare Biden president-elect."
The cable TV news network issued two statements in response to the story including one from Baier.
"FOX News made an election night call of historic magnitude and was first to do so. We stood by the call in the days that followed, it was proven correct, and other news organizations eventually joined us," a company spokesperson said.
Said Baier: "The full context of the e-mail is not reported in this book. I never said the Trump campaign 'was really pissed' – that was from an external email that I referenced within my note.
"This was an email sent AFTER election night. In the immediate days following the election, the vote margins in Arizona narrowed significantly and I communicated these changes to our team along with what people on the ground were saying and predicting district by district. I wanted to analyze at what point (what vote margin) would we have to consider pulling the call for Biden. I also noted that I fully supported our decision desk’s call and would defend it on air."
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