Power Play W/ Chris Stirewalt Power Play With Chris Stirewalt

Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor (seated) with polling chief Dana Blanton and analyst Arnon Mishkin.

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Chris Stirewalt, the Fox News digital politics editor, is leaving the network as part of a company restructuring that eliminated more than a dozen jobs.

Fox News declined to comment, citing employee confidentiality. But several people inside the network, who were not authorized to discuss the matter, confirmed Stirewalt’s departure Tuesday.

While Fox News executives cited the job reductions as part of an ongoing streamlining of its operations, Stirewalt was likely targeted due to his role in the network’s decision to call Arizona for President-elect Joe Biden on election night. Stirewalt was part of the company’s digital unit, generating newsletters and podcasts in addition to political analysis for the TV side.

Bill Sammon, a longtime Fox News executive who was also involved in the Arizona call, announced his retirement to staff on Monday.

There is a wide belief inside Fox News that some loyal viewers have abandoned the network in anger over the decision to give Arizona and its 11 electoral votes to Biden. CNN and other major networks did not make the call until nine days later.

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Fox News faced pushback from the Trump campaign and Arizona state officials over the early call, even though it was ultimately correct and certified. The call diminished Trump’s ability to mount a serious challenge of the state’s results, enraging Trump’s faithful followers.

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Fox News was forced to put Stirewalt and members of its decision desk, who came up with the data that led to the projection, on the air with its anchors to rationalize the call.

After finishing 2020 as the most-watched cable news network, Fox News has slid into third place in the ratings since election day, with CNN and MSNBC getting a larger share of the audience tuning in for coverage of the White House transition and the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

The network has also seen some viewers gravitate to upstart right-wing channel Newsmax, which has given more credence to Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him.

Stirewalt, a veteran political journalist from West Virginia, was also part of the Fox News polling unit that has a reputation for being a fiercely independent operation inside of the conservative-leaning channel that often gives the benefit of the doubt to Trump.

Stirewalt’s departure regarding an election call that was ultimately right is likely to tarnish the unit’s image as a reliable unbiased resource at Fox News.

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