Fox News purge: Political editor Chris Stirewalt – who was part of the election team that called Arizona for Biden – is laid off alongside almost 20 other digital staffers
- Chris Stirewalt, a political editor who had been with Fox News for more than a decade, is among the staffers laid off
- He was part of Fox’s election night team that called Arizona for Joe Biden before other networks, in a move that infuriated Donald Trump and his supporters
- In addition to Stirewalt, at least 16 editorial staffers from the Fox News Digital department have been laid off
- Some of those staffers include senior editors and reporters who have been with Fox for a decade
- Fox described the redundancies as ‘restructuring’ but insiders told The Daily Beast it was a ‘purge’ to make the network more align with Trumpian views
Fox News has laid off one of its political editors Chris Stirewalt and less than 20 other staffers as part of a ‘post-election restructuring’.
Stirewalt, 45, who had been with the network for more than a decade, was part of Fox’s election night team that correctly called Arizona for Joe Biden long before other networks in a move that infuriated Donald Trump and his supporters.
In addition to Stirewalt, at least 16 editorial staffers from the Fox News Digital department have been laid off.
Some of those staffers include senior editors and reporters who have been with Fox for a decade, the Daily Beast reports.
Sources have described the Fox News lay-offs as a ‘blood bath’ initiated by editor in chief Porter Berry who is a former Sean Hannity producer, and appears intent on remolding the network to be more aligned with the pro-Trump views on Hannity.
Chris Stirewalt, who was a political editor who had been with Fox News for more than a decade, is among the staffers to be laid off
Trump had staffers, including senior advisor Jared Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows and advisor Hope Hicks – reach out to contacts at Fox to reverse the Arizona decision.
Kushner was told to call Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, and demand he rescind the Arizona decision. Murdoch refused.
Jason Miller, another adviser, was told by Trump to call Bill Sammon, a senior vice president and managing editor in Washington.
On Monday, Sammon told staffers he planned to retire.
Trump’s supporters eventually started protesting outside polling booths in Arizona.
When the Trump campaign initially threatened lawsuits in Arizona over the election results, Stirewalt had declared on air: ‘Lawsuits, schmawsuits. We haven’t seen any evidence yet that there’s anything wrong.’
Trump then told his followers to switch from Fox News to fringe right-wing rivals Newsmax and OAN.
The network says the layoffs are part of a post-election restructuring.
‘As we conclude the 2020 election cycle, Fox News Digital has realigned its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era,’ a spokesperson said.
‘We are confident these changes will ensure the platform continues to deliver breakthrough reporting and insightful analysis surrounding major issues, both stateside and abroad.’
He was part of Fox’s election night team that correctly called Arizona for Joe Biden long before other networks in a move that infuriated Donald Trump and his supporters
Insiders, however, claim the layoffs is part of a move to align the digital operations with the right-wing opinions of its broadcasting shows.
‘There is a concerted effort to get rid of real journalists,’ a former staffer told the Daily Beast.
‘They laid capable people off who were actual journalists and not blind followers.’
Another said: ‘It’s essentially the final nail in the coffin for digital journalism at Fox.’
Meanwhile, one former staffer blamed the ‘purge’ entirely on Berry, saying he is threatened by experienced digital editors given his background is in broadcast.
‘This is all Porter. Both an ideological purge and a purge of people he was threatened by,’ they said.
Fox News called Berry’s digital strategy ‘unrivaled’ in a statement.
‘Since taking over FOX News Digital in 2018, Porter Berry has not only innovated the platform, but ushered in extraordinary growth by cultivating one of the most engaged and loyal audiences in news. We are incredibly proud of his accomplishments and look forward to continued success thanks to his unrivaled digital strategy.’
Fox News Digital is reportedly set to announce a new leadership team in the coming weeks.
The news came the day after it was reported that Maria Bartiromo, who has promoted Trump’s claims that the election was stolen, will be given a trial at the channel’s 7pm primetime slot.
Bartiromo, a longtime business-news anchor, currently has two different jobs at Fox News: one as the morning anchor for Fox Business Network and another as the host of a Sunday-morning interview program, Sunday Morning Futures.
She is being considered alongside contributors Katie Pavlich, Rachel Campos-Duffy and former U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy, and frequent guest Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and commentator.
Ratings for Fox News Channel topped all news and basic cable channels for a fifth straight year in 2020, according to Nielsen data released at the end of December.
The network averaged 1.9 million viewers per day and 3.6 million in primetime – record levels for cable news channels – during a news-heavy year marked by the coronavirus pandemic, protests for racial justice and the contentious presidential election.
Newsmax’s audience jumped after the election, though its overall audience remained much smaller than Fox’s reach.
In November, Newsmax primetime ratings peaked at 495,000 on average, slipping to 391,000 in early December.
OAN pulled in its highest ratings ever in 2020, its president, Charles Herring, said via email, and viewership surged by more than 40 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter.
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