On the night after the November 3 election, hundreds of supporters of Donald Trump filled the parking lot of an election center in Arizona’s Maricopa County, where officials were still counting ballots. Although most networks had yet to call the state for Joe Biden, Fox News had declared him the projected winner shortly before midnight on election night. The Trump voters in Phoenix were furious. “Count the votes,” they chanted. “Fox News sucks!”
To Trump and his supporters, the network’s call in Arizona was a rare betrayal: In the previous four years Fox had become so enmeshed with the Trump administration that it functioned effectively as a mouthpiece for the White House. But Trump loyalists could easily confirm their belief that the election had been stolen from the president elsewhere, in more rabidly partisan outlets like Newsmax TV and One America News Network, which declared Fox a “Democrat Party hack” in the wake of its Arizona call. A whole web of right-wing influencers and outlets amplified conspiracies about ballots stuffed in suitcases and counterfeit mail-in votes.