Trump’s chief of staff Meadows called Fox News VP on election night to complain about Arizona call

Meadows claimed that Fox had no way to make Arizona projection

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows furiously questioned a top Fox News staffer over the network’s decision to call Arizona in president Joe Biden’s favour on election night last year in the minutes after the call occurred.

Mr Meadows writes in The Chief’s Chief, a memoir published last week, that he angrily dialed the managing editor of Fox News’s Washington DC operations, Bill Sammon, to complain about the call that he described in the book as “mathematically impossible” for the network to have made when it did.

He had previously berated Mr Sammon over what he viewed as a “a liberal contingent within the network trying to sabotage President Trump in the name of objectivity” and supposedly uneven coverage of the Trump campaign by Fox’s journalists. The network’s opinion hosts are almost uniformly pro-Trump and some, including Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, are among his biggest boosters on television.

“I dialed Bill Sammon once again, tapping the numbers with such force that I'm surprised I didn't crack the screen of my iPhone," wrote Mr Meadows in his memoir.

The network’s news side has also been accused by other news organisations of skewing their coverage in favour of focus on culture war issues and fears about immigration that play into the narratives of GOP candidates, including Mr Trump.

The Independent has reached out to Fox News for comment on the reported exchange between Mr Sammon, who retired in January, and Mr Meadows.

According to his own writing, Mr Meadows argued to Mr Sammon that “[t]here is no information that you could have at this time that would make this call possible”, and added that while it was possible Mr Trump would lose the traditionally-red state he would only do so by less than 10,000 votes at most.

In reality, Mr Trump lost in the state by slightly more than 10,000 votes. Fox News became the first to call the state in Mr Biden’s favour, doing so before midnight with just over a quarter of the vote outstanding and Mr Biden up by about 9 percentage points. The president’s lead would shrink dramatically, but The Associated Press followed suit and declared the state for Mr Biden several hours later.

The call by Fox led to “ a loud series of screams and expletives” from the assembled staff watching the news in the White House, according to Mr Meadows, and Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reported on election night that Mr Trump himself phoned Rupert Murdoch, the network’s owner, to demand the call be retracted.

“According to a source, Trump phoned Fox owner Rupert Murdoch to scream about the call and demand a retraction. Murdoch refused, and the call stood,” reported Mr Sherman.

Despite the eventual vindication of the network’s call, Mr Sammon reportedly faced criticism from executives at Fox for the decision. Fox’s political editor and on-air face of the Fox News decision desk, Chris Stirewalt, was fired over the incident around the same time that Mr Sammon announced his plans to exit the network.

Mr Meadows now faces the possibility of being charged with contempt of Congress after ending his cooperation with a House committee investigation the 6 January attack on Congress.

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