From the Fox News studio, anchor Neil Cavuto cut in to end Fox’s broadcast of the video feed from the Republican National Committee headquarters. “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he said. “I just think we have to be very clear that she’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this.”
He continued: “I want to make sure that maybe they do have something to back that up, but that’s an explosive charge to make, that the other side is effectively rigging and cheating. If she does bring proof of that, of course we’ll take you back. So far she has started saying right at the outset — welcoming fraud, welcoming illegal voting. Not so fast.”
The decision to cut away was Cavuto’s, not an edict from Fox’s top brass, according to people familiar with the show’s decision.
Fox has occasionally cut away from McEnany briefings in the past but notably did not do so even during the lengthiest of President Trump’s coronavirus task force briefings, when Trump took the lectern and veered away from information about the pandemic and straight into political messaging.
The move Monday came amid heightened attention on Fox News, whose decision desk was the first to call the state of Arizona for former vice president Joe Biden on election night, incurring the wrath of the president. The close relationship the network has long enjoyed with the president has cooled in the weeks since Rupert Murdoch, whose family controls Fox News, started telling associates that he predicted Trump would lose the election.
McEnany would go on to say at Monday’s news conference that Republican poll watchers were barred from observing the counting, an allegation that Fox News reporter Eric Shawn, who had been reporting from Philadelphia during the counting, refuted on air numerous times last week, including at one point showing a photograph of the view a poll watcher could see. “That’s not true,” Shawn told host Dana Perino on air about such an allegation by Trump. “That’s not true. That’s just not true.”
Cavuto has been critical of Trump’s claims before, and he has attracted the president’s ire in the past. Earlier this year, Cavuto told viewers the president’s vigorous endorsement of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventive drug for the coronavirus was dangerous and could even be deadly.
“Mr. President, we don’t work for you. I don’t work for you,” Cavuto said on air last year. “My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you — just report on you.”
For days, Fox reporters and anchors, such as Bret Baier, who work for the network’s news division have been saying on air that claims about widespread voter fraud lack evidence.
“Listen, we are not seeing any evidence of widespread fraud,” Baier said during an interview with Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel. “We want to look into everything as well. But we just haven’t seen it. You know, it hasn’t been presented. There’s all kinds of stuff flying on the Internet. But when we look into it, it doesn’t pan out.”
Some of Fox’s news personalities have received heightened threats in the past week, as Trump supporters have targeted them online and in emails and phone calls for appearing not to back the president, two Fox staffers said.
Meanwhile, the network’s opinion hosts, who have close relationships with the president, have been suggesting that there was some foul play. Laura Ingraham alleged Wednesday that Democrats were trying to “destroy the integrity of our election process.” Sean Hannity claimed to his viewers Friday without evidence that “we have serious reports of irregularities and fraud and not allowing vote counters to observe counting.”