Fox News host Chris Wallace condemned Trump's false claim of election victory: 'extremely inflammatory'
- Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said that President Donald Trump "threw a match" onto "an extremely flammable situation" by falsely claiming to have won the election.
- Fox's commentators expressed concern at the claim and struggled to rationalize the president's statements.
- Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino suggested the president was not totally serious — but agreed that he "went a step too far."
- Fox News did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment.
Fox News host Chris Wallace swiftly condemned President Donald Trump's false claim of having won the election, saying it was "extremely inflammatory."
The president said in a speech on Tuesday night that "frankly, we did win this election," despite there having been too few results for either candidate to have won.
He went on to call for "all voting to stop," claiming that he would take his case to the Supreme Court.
His claim of victory was false — at the time of the speech, no decisive victory had been declared, with a sizeable portion of votes left to count. It is not also clear why he said he would go to the Supreme Court.
Fox News' election hosts and commentators expressed concern at the president's statements and struggled to put them in some kind of context.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 4, 2020
Wallace, responding, said: "This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it. He hasn't won the states, nobody is saying he's won the states, the states haven't said that he's won."
A chyron saying several states were "too early to call" backed him up. Fox News, which has its own decision desk, had not called either candidate for the presidency.
Its decision earlier in the evening to call Arizona for Joe Biden — the first major outlet to do so — also enraged the Trump campaign.
Wallace himself is not particularly in favor with the Trump administration, having criticized the president several times and been accused of bias by Trump and Donald Trump Jr. after he hosted the first presidential debate on September 30.
He added that he didn't know if the president meant his statements literally, but questioned Trump's call for "all the voting to stop."
Voting has stopped, but in some states votes can still arrive and be counted after Election Day.
"I don't know whether [Trump] literally means it, but he said 'we will be going to the Supreme Court because we want all the voting to stop.' Well — voting to stop, yes, but vote counting?" Wallace asked.
As Wallace pointed out, states are often unable to finish their vote count on the morning of the day after Election Day.
Commentator Dana Perino — a former White House press secretary under George W. Bush — attempted to offer an alternative explanation for what the president meant.
—jordan (@JordanUhl) November 4, 2020
She suggested that the president was worried "that all of a sudden you're going to find a hundred thousand votes that just happen to be in some trash can behind a thing — I think that's what he was talking about."
It is unclear what Perino meant, but she appeared to be alluding to election fraud. Trump has spread several, widely debunked conspiracy theories about election fraud around mail-in voting and voting in-person more than once.
She suggested that the president had been reflecting on the victories already confirmed for the Republicans on election night, but had just taken things too far.
"They have so many things that they can talk about and be proud of tonight," she said.
"And to say, in a posture of 'I'm convinced we're going to win — I believe that these races are going to be called for me, and for us, and for our movement, just hang with me for another 24 hours instead' — now what will the headlines all be tomorrow?" What will everybody be saying? That he just went a step too far."
Fox News did not immediately reply to Business Insider's request for comment.
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