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Fox News’ Democracy Killing Mistake

Fox News made an election night mistake that ended up crippling our Democracy
At around 10.30 P.M. E.T. on Election Night, a friend who lives on the East Coast sent me a WhatsApp message: “You can see that Trump now leads in N.C., and the margin is growing.  Same thing happened in Ohio.  I switch back and forth between CNN and Fox.  The CNN folks are starting to get depressed.”
In response, I sent him a picture of a bottle of Trump red wine with a caption “I am ready.”  It would be a repeat of Election Night 2016.
 
But at 11:20 P.M., Fox News made a shocking announcement by calling Arizona for Joe Biden.  Never mind that about 900,000 votes were yet uncounted, including absentee ballots.  Other news outlets, including The New York Times and CNN, did not make a call until two days later. [Fox News has aksed that we note that, the polls in Arizona were closed at the time of the call.]
 
Losing Arizona meant Trump must win 22 electoral votes, instead of just 11, to seal his re-election.  He must win either Pennsylvania (20) or Michigan (16) along with either Wisconsin (10) or Nevada (6).  It was still doable.  But the premature call of Arizona for Biden had more impact in elevating the hope of the Biden campaign than in slowing down Trump’s winning momentum.
 
Not surprisingly, twenty minutes later, at 11:40 P.M., Biden made an appearance and addressed his supporters: “We believe one of the [networks] has suggested we’ve already won Arizona, but we’re confident about Arizona — that’s a turnaround.”
 
That wasn’t an impromptu remark.  It was a prepared one.  Arizona was a turnaround.  In Biden’s own words.  After Fox News’s premature call.
 
Trying to clarify his news company’s decision, Bret Baier asked Arnon Mishkin, the head of Fox’s decision desk, whether he was 100% sure about the call.
 
Mishkin answered aloofly, “Absolutely.  We made it after basically a half-hour of debating, ‘Is it time yet?’  Because it’s been clear for a while that the former vice president is in the lead in Arizona and was most likely to win the state.  It has been in the category that we call ‘knowable but not callable’ for about an hour.  We finally called it.”
 
There are two problems with this call.  First, you don’t call it when it is still in statistical probability.  The word “most likely” means that the chance is less than 100%.  You call a state for one candidate when it is mathematically impossible for the other candidate to catch up.
Secondly, when Mishkin and his team were deliberating whether to make the call for Biden or not, the percentage of the votes counted was most likely still about 60% or so.  Arizona is not a solid blue state. Trump carried the state in 2016 by a healthy 3.5% margin.  Prior to 2010, Arizona had voted Republican candidates nine times in the last previous ten elections.  And in 2018, the state elected a Republican governor by a huge margin, 14%.  By almost all accounts, Trump would carry the state again.
 
The state’s results came almost nine days after Fox News’s call, with Biden leading by a razor-thin margin, 0.3% (49.40% vs. 49.10%), which is still contested by the Trump campaign.  But the Fox News premature call on Arizona for Biden was like a lifeline to the Biden campaign’s falling hope on the Election Night.  It may have triggered the chain reaction of the Biden campaign to win the election, including the great mystery of the four-hour break of vote counts in Michigan and Wisconsin on the dawn of November 4.  What transpired afterward was massive cheating in both states.
 
The question is, why did Fox News call it so early?  Or, rather, who is Arnon Mishkin?
 
Mishkin is a registered Democrat.  He voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  This is not to suggest that Mishkin and his team were coordinating with the Biden campaign.  However, I am 100% sure that Mishkin voted for Biden and has every desire in his blood that Trump lose in this election. [Fox News has asked us to note that Mishkin formerly was a political consultant, and has worked for and donated to candidates of both parties.]
 
Fox News decided to employ a partisan Democrat hack to make a call in a very consequential election.  Every conservative has a right to be furious and abandon Fox News.  And Fox News can thank Mishkin for the tank in its ratings.

What do you think?

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