Then came Election Day. With 78 percent of the vote counted, the “No” ballots — rejecting the initiative to remove Newsom — were ahead of “Yes” ballots by about 2.6 million votes. News organizations had little trouble making an election-night call. Don’t the vote-fraudsters know that they don’t need to provide that big a margin?
Speaking of margins, analysts for FiveThirtyEight noted that Newsom’s cushion just might be comparable to that of his victory in the 2018 gubernatorial election. California, after all, remains a blue state where politicians such as Newsom don’t need help at the polls.
Given that Lahren got a bit of attention for her prediction — including scrutiny from CNN’s Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” — we figured she’d want to discuss it further. So we asked Fox News for an interview with her, and we asked the network whether it stands by the fraud prediction. We’ve heard nothing yet from Fox News.
News outlets with standards would discipline or fire commentators for speculating about voter fraud in advance of an election. It’s not just that such drivel undermines faith in democracy; it’s also that it’s unsupported by evidence, something that should concern leaders at organizations with “News” in their name.
Yet Lahren had reason to believe that she’d be fine. She’d done something similar just before the 2020 presidential election. In a Fox Nation conversation with Sean Spicer, Lahren mentioned that the confidence of Trump voters was sagging a bit. Spicer, who was President Donald Trump’s first White House press secretary, alleged that Democrats were changing election rules, including deadlines, midstream. “That’s how the Democrats are governing the election — which is, Tell me how many votes we need, I’ll go find them and then we’ll call the deadline,” said Spicer.
Those comments touched off a rant by Lahren on … California: “It really is the California model because California has been doing this for quite some time and they’ve actually shifted elections,” said Lahren. “The midterms were one of them. They shifted elections based on mail-in votes that they found after the fact. This is the California model that’s being brought upon the nation.”
That “shifting” was, in fact, the proper counting of mail-in ballots, as Ed Kilgore explained in an extensive New York magazine rebuttal of fraud complaints related to California’s 2018 midterm elections. “We were only down 26 seats the night of the election and three weeks later, we lost basically every California race,” then-House Speaker Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R) said at the time. A 2015 legal change had given voters more time with their mail-in ballots, which needed to be postmarked by Election Day and received by elections authorities up to three days later — as opposed to arriving by Election Day.
The verdict from Lahren’s Twitter feed on the results of the 2020 presidential election drew a notation from Twitter itself:
There was more of that in the pipeline:
Lahren wasn’t even among the more prominent Fox champions of the “big lie” in the 2020 contest. Those distinctions fell to hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, who starred in the defamation complaints brought by voting companies Dominion and Smartmatic over on-air statements that they participated in widespread voter-fraud schemes. (The network has filed to dismiss the Smartmatic and Dominion complaints.)
Several Fox News personalities — including Neil Cavuto, Chris Wallace, Eric Shawn, Bill Hemmer, Jedediah Bila, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum — did challenge the election-fraud lies following last November’s contest. But those folks have to battle Fox News’s varsity and JV “big lie” teams. In addition to the big-lie big shots cited in those lawsuits, several other Fox personalities contributed in one way or another to Trump’s electoral fantasy. Lahren is a host on the Fox Nation streaming service, which launched in November 2018 as a way to capitalize on the hunger among American conservatives for more Fox News. Fox Nation content resides behind a paywall and generally gets far less attention than the programming on the cable channel. But it keeps people like Lahren in business — and around for the next election.