Fox News host debunks "baseless" Trump voter fraud claims amplified by his own colleagues

Eric Shawn blows up Trump's "baseless claims" of a "rigged election" which were amplified by his network colleagues

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published November 16, 2020 1:04PM (EST)

Donald Trump | Fox News logo (Photo illustration by Salon/Alex Wong/Getty Images/Fox News/Salon)
Donald Trump | Fox News logo (Photo illustration by Salon/Alex Wong/Getty Images/Fox News/Salon)

Fox News host Eric Shawn fact-checked the baseless fraud claims made by President Donald Trump which have been amplified by his network colleagues on Sunday during an in-depth segment.

Shawn questioned whether viewers would believe "baseless claims" of a "rigged election" or "your own government election officials across the country" who say "it's not true." 

The false claims, he added, were "designed to undermine your faith in American democracy."

Shawn, a longtime reporter, called out the false claims only hours after colleague Maria Bartiromo devoted most of her Sunday Fox News show to a widely debunked conspiracy theory that a software system used by Dominion voting machines switched votes from Trump to President-elect Joe Biden. Trump has baselessly alleged that Dominion machines "deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide," and he shared clips from Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro and Jesse Watters to push the claim on Twitter.

Bartiromo raised questions about the machines on Sunday as she hosted Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. Giuliani claimed to have proof of fraud related to the software, but he told Bartiromo that he "can't really disclose that." 

Powell baselessly claimed that Dominion had changed "millions of votes." When asked how he could "prove this," Powell replied: "I've got lots of ways to prove it, Maria but I'm not going to tell on national TV what all we have. I just can't do that."

Shawn fact-checked the claim by airing a clip of election security official Ben Hovland declaring that the election was "the most secure election we've ever had" and warning against conspiracy theories aimed at sowing doubt in the system. Shawn also read a statement from Dominion refuting the allegations of vote-switching and right-wing attempts to link the company to Venezuela and Democratic politicians like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"Prosecutors say any voter or election fraud allegation will be thoroughly investigated. And if a fix were in — if there was wrongdoing — we will know about it," Shawn added. "But election officials across the country insist, as of today, there is no evidence of any widespread fraud affecting the outcome of the presidential election, that our precious democracy was not tampered with and that such baseless and false claims are an insult to the thousands of election officials and workers across the country who we have seen dedicating themselves 24/7 to ensure a fair and free election for all of us."

Shawn also debunked the president's claims that Republicans had been blocked from observing ballots being counted in Pennsylvania. He played a clip of the top Republican election official in city calling the allegation "totally untrue" and noting that observers from both parties had been allowed to monitor the process.

Shawn similarly fact-checked that claim during an appearance in the wake of Election Day.

"That's not true," he told host Dana Perino at the time. "That's just not true. The election poll watchers — they're called canvass watchers. Republicans have been in this room — in that room — where they are supposed to be standing alongside with the Democrats."

Later on Sunday, the Trump campaign dropped the false claim that its poll observers were not allowed to monitor the counting process from its lawsuit in Pennsylvania.

While hosts like Bartiromo and Pirro have amplified Trump's unfounded claims, the network's news side has been more adamant about pushing back on the baseless allegations of fraud.

On Saturday, anchor Leland Vittert hammered Trump campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine over her inability to explain how Trump's dubious election-related legal challenges would find enough "fraudulent" votes to change the outcome of the election.

"I'm trying to ask you, very simply, where are you going to find the votes?" Vittert pressed. "You say you want to count every vote, conceivably because you think you're going to pull ahead. Where are the votes in a path to 270? Where?"

"We are taking every legal avenue that exists in these states to make sure that legal votes are counted and illegal votes are counted," Perrine replied, appearing to misspeak. "For every Democrat and every talking head on the news, how much fraud is OK? How many dead people can vote, and you're OK with that?"

"Am I OK with it?" Vittert laughed before criticizing Perrine for attacking "everybody if they don't agree with you" and cutting off the interview.

Even "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy pushed back on the Dominion conspiracy theory when it was pushed by Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, who claimed that "thousands of votes" had been switched from Biden to Trump.

"I looked into it," Doocy replied. "With that Dominion software, five counties in Michigan and Georgia had problems. And the Dominion software was used in two of the counties. And, in every instance, largely it was human error — a problem — but the software did not affect the vote counts."

Doocy appeared to cite a New York Times investigation of the claim, which found no evidence that Dominion machines had switched votes.

"Many of the claims being asserted about Dominion and questionable voting technology is misinformation at best and, in many cases, they're outright disinformation," Edward Perez, an election-technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonprofit that studies voting systems, told The Times. "I'm not aware of any evidence of specific things or defects in Dominion software that would lead one to believe that votes had been recorded or counted incorrectly."

You can watch the video below via Fox News:

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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