A few of Mr. Trump’s former aides testified that the Fox call shocked them but additionally undermined their confidence in his possibilities of victory. Jason Miller, a senior aide on the Trump campaign, said in video testimony played by the committee that he and others were “disillusioned with Fox” for making the decision but at the identical time “concerned that perhaps our data or our numbers weren’t accurate.”
Mr. Miller had shared none of that concern on election night, when he tweeted that Fox was a “complete outlier” whose call must be ignored by other media. At Mr. Trump’s insistence, he and other aides immediately reached out to Fox executives, producers and on-air talent to demand a proof. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, went straight to the highest, calling Mr. Murdoch. The scene played out partly on the air as Fox talent commented in regards to the complaints raining down on them from the Trump campaign.
“Arnon, we’re getting a variety of incoming here, and we’d like you to reply some questions,” the network’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, said at one point, referring to Arnon Mishkin, the person on the choice desk who was accountable for analyzing the information and recommending when Fox issue its calls.
On Monday, Mr. Stirewalt didn’t describe either Mr. Murdoch or Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox Corporation executive chairman, as being a part of the choice desk’s process. And network executives have said the Murdochs weren’t involved.
Though Fox News coverage is usually favorable to conservative, pro-Trump points of view, that deference has never been adopted by the choice desk, which is a separate a part of the news-gathering operation overseen by Mr. Mishkin, a polling expert who can also be a registered Democrat. In the times after the election, Mr. Mishkin was unwavering in his defense of the decision as Fox anchors pressed him. Once, because the host Martha MacCallum peppered Mr. Mishkin with a series of “what if” scenarios that would bolster Mr. Trump’s possibilities of eking out a victory, Mr. Mishkin responded sarcastically, “What if frogs had wings?” (Mr. Mishkin stays a paid consultant for the network, not an worker, and can run the choice desk for the midterm elections in November.)
The choice desk was created under the previous Fox News chairman and founder Roger Ailes, who relished making controversy and drawing rankings greater than he cared about toeing the road for the Republican Party. Its quick calls angered Republicans on a couple of occasion, including in 2012, when it was the primary to project that President Barack Obama would win Ohio and a second term, and in 2018 when it declared that Republicans would lose the House of Representatives at the same time as votes were still being solid on the West Coast.