Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer was about to give viewers another look at the election map at 11:20 Tuesday night when something in the southwest caught his eye and did not compute.
A yellow check had appeared on Arizona, declaring the state for Joe Biden with 73 percent of the vote in. Then, as the Washington Post reports, the on-air hijinks ensued.
“Have we called Arizona?” Hemmer asked.
At that point, no other network had called the state for Biden, and it wasn’t the first time on Election night that Fox had put a state in the former Vice President’s column ahead of its rivals.
According to the Post’s sources, Trump staffers were “livid” and his supporters quickly took to the air to insist that Trump could still win the Grand Canyon state. (In fact, it is still in play.)
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the Fox crew it was a “premature call,” and said, “I think a lot of people aren’t totally sure about Arizona.”
Former George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove agreed that the call was “maybe a little premature… This is one where a little bit of caution might be useful.” But Rove also admitted, “I’m not sure that I disagree with call.”
Anchor Bret Baier then asked decision-desk director Arnon Mishkin—a registered Democrat who works for Fox under contract—to come on camera and explain what was going on, because “we’re getting a lot of incoming here.”
“I’m sorry,” Mishkin said, “the president is not going to be able to take over and win enough votes to eliminate that seven-point lead that the former vice president has.” When Miskin was told that the White House was not convinced, he replied, “I’m sorry we’re not wrong in this particular case.”
“You don’t have to apologize,” Baier told him.
Hours later, when Trump gave a 2 a.m. speech, Mishkin was still stuck in his craw.
“Arizona, we have a lot of life in that, and somebody said—somebody declared it was a victory for—and maybe it will be, I mean, that’s possible,” Trump said. “But certainly there were a lot of votes out there that we could get because we’re now just coming into what they call Trump territory.”
Just before dawn, with other news outlets, included the Associated Press, calling Arizona for Biden, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum announced, “Arnon was right. The White House was wrong.”
By Wednesday morning, Trump had found many other things in the election to gripe about. In the course of four hours, Twitter flagged four Trump tweets with the warning, “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
In one of the disputed Tweets, Trump complains, “Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the ‘pollsters’ got it completely & historically wrong!”
Most recently, he tweeted to “claim” the State of Michigan, which appears to have gone to Biden.
RELATED: The Election 2020 Guide
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