Fox News receives brutal fact-check for claim of ‘evenhanded’ election coverage
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Fox News (screengrab)

Fox News is having difficulty trying to repair its reputation after spending months airing the unfounded conspiracy theories of election fraud that culminated in the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

"In the days after the presidential election, an entire ecosystem emerged to bolster President Donald Trump's false claims that rampant fraud had mired the election results. No credible evidence of significant fraud existed at the time, just as no credible evidence to that end exists today. For Trump and his allies, though, hyping sketchy, unfounded allegations served to strengthen Trump's efforts to somehow overturn the will of the electorate and generated an enormous amount of attention from a Republican base eager to wrench victory from the jaws of reality," The Washington Post's Philip Bump explained Tuesday.

Fox News repeatedly aired the conspiracy theories about election fraud.

"In short order, Dominion and Smartmatic threatened to sue those promoting the false claims, seeking billions of dollars for the damage each company claims it incurred. Powell was sued, among others, as was the parent company of Fox Business and Fox News, where the baseless claims found a welcoming home," Bump noted. "In response, Fox filed a brief defending its coverage, on the grounds that it is protected by the First Amendment. By hosting Powell, Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani and other figures, the company argues, Fox was simply providing coverage of a story of national news interest. As defenses go, it's a robust one. But then the brief goes a bit further, seeking to demonstrate how 'evenhanded' its coverage of the issue was by delineating a number of occasions when Fox News or Fox Business aired comments expressing skepticism about the fraud claims."

"For example, the brief quotes host Maria Bartiromo questioning Powell on Nov. 15 by asking her how she will prove her claims about Smartmatic," Bump explained. "This is presented as being evenhanded coverage of Powell. What isn't mentioned, though, is that Powell was given airtime to make her claims without Bartiromo seeking to validate them in any way before Powell sat down in front of the camera. (The affidavit, mind you, was nonsense.) Also unmentioned is that during a different segment of the show that day, Bartiromo interviewed Giuliani, who proceeded to make similar claims about Smartmatic, to the host's credulous approval. Over and over, the examples of 'evenhandedness' presented by Fox News were instead examples of hosts sprinkling 'And you can prove this?' queries after extended misleading riffs about the two companies."

Read the full report.