As the televised House January 6 Committee hearings continued Monday, the witnesses included former Fox News Channel politics editor Chris Stirewalt, part of the decision desk team at Fox that was the first to correctly predict that Joe Biden had won Arizona in the 2020 presidential election.
Stirewalt, who now works as political editor at Nexstar-owned NewsNation, briefly described the process that led to calling Arizona for Biden, a decision he said he knew would be consequential because it was among five battleground states that would ultimately decide the race between Biden and former president Donald Trump.
His testimony was part of a presentation (including video depositions by former Trump campaign officials and former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr) that showed Trump was told many times that there was no evidence backing Trump's belief that the election was stolen from him.
Asked about the controversial call on Arizona, Stirewalt said: “Well, it was really controversial to our competitors who we beat so badly by making the correct call first. Our decision desk was the best in the business and I was very proud to be a part of it.”
Fox News had built a forecasting team and process over the course of a decade, and as the votes were coming in from Arizona it backed up what Fox News’s internal polling showed, Stirewalt said. Fox News also had access to Associated Press polling and other data, he said. “We had a different set of data than our competitors did. We had more research and we had a better system and we had a great team,” Stirewalt said.
As Trump campaign officials said in deposition videos shown by the committee, Fox News's ultimately correct call on Arizona was a big surprise that angered Trump and members of his campaign inner circle. Stirewalt, who was the public face for the network’s decision desk, and his boss Bill Sammon, the network’s senior VP and managing editor in Washington, both left the network after pushback from viewers about the election coverage.
Sammon had wanted the decision desk team to be unanimous before making the call on Arizona, Stirewalt said. “We were able to make the call early,” Stirewalt said. “We looked around the room, everybody says yea and on we go.”
NewsNation said it would air an interview with Stirewalt (done after his testimony) on the On Balance with Leland Vittert show on NewsNation at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT). Stirewalt will appear on Dan Abrams Live on NewsNation at 9 p.m. ET for a live interview.
NewsNation is streaming the hearings live, while Fox News has been airing its regular programming, even as the committee was showing Fox News clips of Trump interviews. ■
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Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.