On a hot mic while off-air on Monday, Fox News host Sandra Smith reacted with exasperation to a pro-Donald Trump lawyer's insistence that Joe Biden had not in fact won the 2020 presidential election.
The comments came during a segment on Fox News' America's Newsroom, which featured a Republican lawyer who openly questioned the election results.
Those results have been projected by every major network (including Fox) and the Associated Press, based on vote counts provided by counties and states overseen by both Republicans and Democrats across the country.
"Remember, just because CNN says — or even Fox News says — that's somebody's president, doesn't make 'em president," the lawyer said.
Footage that subsequently went viral on social media shows Smith, who was off air, looking up from her notes, shaking her head and narrowing her eyes in disbelief as the claims were made.
“What? What is happening?” Smith said incredulously, speaking to fellow anchor Trace Gallagher. “Trace, we’ve called it."
The incident mirrored a moment that same day by the network's Neil Cavuto, who interrupted the Trump campaign's renewed claims of voter fraud during a press conference featuring White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
As McEnany began insisting, without offering evidence, that Democrats were "welcoming fraud" and "welcoming illegal voting," the network cut back to Cavuto.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," he said. "I just think we have to be very clear: She's charging the other side as welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can't in good countenance continue showing you this."
"I want to make sure that, maybe they do have something to back that up, but that's an explosive charge to make — that the other side is effectively rigging and cheating," Cavuto continued. "If she does bring proof of that, of course we'll take you back. So far, she had started saying, right at the outset, 'Welcoming fraud, welcoming illegal voting.' Not so fast."
Trump's campaign reportedly grew furious at Fox News, whose opinion hosts largely praise him, after Fox News became the first major network to call Arizona for Biden on election night based on the votes coming in. (A week later, he still leads there.)
After the call, Trump campaign surrogate Jason Miller called Fox "a complete outlier," claiming the network was trying to "invalidate" votes. The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly even phoned Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch to complain.
Trump's supporters quickly followed suit in expressing their distrust of the network, chanting "Fox News sucks" outside an Arizona election facility last week.
Some Fox opinion hosts, including Laura Ingraham, have continued to back the president in making the case for voter fraud. The network's journalists, however, have responded with more skepticism to that charge.
"Lawsuits, schmawsuits," said Fox News' politics editor, Chris Stirewalt. "We haven’t seen any evidence yet that there’s anything wrong.”
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