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Did Fox News Call Arizona for Biden With ‘Less Than 1 Percent’ of the Vote In?
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Did Fox News Call Arizona for Biden With ‘Less Than 1 Percent’ of the Vote In?


Last week, Robert O’Neill—a former Fox News contributor and Navy SEAL known for his role in the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011— tweeted the false claim that during its coverage of the 2020 presidential election, Fox News prematurely called Arizona for President Joe Biden with “less than 1% in.”

In response to O’Neill’s false statement, Fox News anchor Bret Baier tweeted that O’Neill’s claim is “not true,” and that “Our decision desk called AZ w/ almost 80% of the vote in AFTER polls had closed. Associated Press called AZ that night too. No matter what you think of the call or the audit -this tweet is wrong.”

Here’s what actually happened on Election Night: Fox News’ much-criticized but correct decision to call Arizona for Biden occurred at 11:20 p.m. with almost 73 percent of Arizona’s vote counted, according to the New York Times. Fox announced Biden as the winner, when Biden was up 9 percentage points. Three hours later, with almost 80 percent of the vote in, per NPR, the Associated Press also called the state for Biden. 

Arnon Mishkin, director of Fox News’ decision desk, who made the controversial Arizona call, said in an interview with the Washington Post from November 4 that even though not all votes were in by the time he called Arizona for Biden, “the president is not going to be able to take over and win enough votes to eliminate [Biden’s lead].” 

In an interview with Fox News shortly after calling Arizona for Biden, Mishkin also stood by his decision, describing it as having been in the category of “knowable, but not callable for about an hour.” He continued, “yes, there are some outstanding votes in Arizona, most of them are coming from Maricopa where Biden is currently in a very strong position and many of them are from mail in ballots where we know from our Fox News voter analysis, Biden has an advantage.”

(Disclosure: Dispatch CEO Steve Hayes and Editor in Chief Jonah Goldberg are Fox News contributors and contributing editor Chris Stirewalt is a former Fox News employee who worked on the decision desk on Election Night.)

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Khaya Himmelman is a fact checker for The Dispatch. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Barnard College.