The orchestrator of Fox News' early call of Arizona in the last presidential election is coming back to run the network’s decision desk for the 2022 midterms and 2024 elections.
Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott told The Hollywood Reporter that Decision Desk Director Arnon Mishkin will be rehired to be in charge of upcoming election coverage.
Fox stirred outrage from its viewers when it called Arizona just minutes after polls closed on election night 2020, while still failing to call Florida for then-President Donald Trump, even though voting had closed almost two hours earlier.
Mishkin, a longtime Democrat operative who backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and donated to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, quickly drew the ire of the Trump campaign for his Arizona decision.
Trump won Florida handily, but almost all major news outlets said Arizona was too close to call and waited for days before making the call for Joe Biden.
Political experts such as Dick Morris said Fox’s early call for Arizona was an attempt to squelch the view Trump could still win if recounts in states like Wisconsin and Georgia were successful.
Trump has long pointed to Fox News' Arizona call for Biden as a watershed moment on election night.
Mishkin’s re-hiring appears to fit Fox’s new approach to distance itself from its more conservative base.
"I’m fully vaccinated," Fox CEO Scott greeted the Hollywood Reporter writer upon meeting him in her Manhattan office. The article notes the office showcases framed pictures of Scott with Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.
The Hollywood Reporter notes the political shift has been underway since the departure of long time Fox Chairman Roger Ailes.
"While Ailes fancied himself a GOP kingmaker, Scott is less an ideologue, more motivated by brand success than political influence," the magazine said.
Trump himself has decried the political sea change at Fox.
"Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there," Trump tweeted shortly after the 2020 election, blaming his defeat on Fox’s coverage.
"They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was @FoxNews!"
While Fox has kept its conservative, highly-rated show hosts like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, pro-Trump hosts like Lou Dobbs and Trish Regan were given the boot after the election, while news coverage remains led by moderates like anchor Chris Wallace.
Fox News has also sought to keep in the good graces of the Biden administration, with the network’s chief Washington lobbyist, Danny O’Brien, having served previously as Biden’s Senate chief of staff.
Biden publicly acknowledged that his controversial mandatory employee vaccination program is modeled on one Fox News implemented for its staff.
Scott’s new direction at Fox may herald more changes at the network.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch turned 90 earlier this year and his son James Murdoch has reportedly indicated that he and other siblings will control Fox after his father’s passing.
He said they have no plan to sell the network, but will seek to make its reporting more establishment.
The young Murdoch and his wife spent over $20 million in an effort to defeat Trump’s re-election.
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