Fox News has reportedly laid off at least 16 staffers. They include political editor Chris Stirewalt, who defended the network’s Arizona election call that angered Trump.
By GRACE DEAN
Fox News laid off its political editor Chris Stirewalt and more than a dozen other staffers in what insiders described as a “blood bath,” The Daily Beast reported on Tuesday.
The media giant has sacked at least 16 digital editorial staffers, including senior editors and people who had been at the company for more than a decade, The Daily Beast reported, citing a dozen current and former Fox News employees.
A Fox representative told Insider that the dismissals were part of an ongoing restructuring.
Stirewalt, who was laid off Tuesday night, had become a controversial figure among fans of the network after he defended its early projection that Joe Biden would win Arizona based on an analysis by Fox News’ Decision Desk.
President Donald Trump was angered by the Arizona call, and his officials desperately urged Fox to retract it.
Stirewalt refused to reverse his support for the call, despite other Fox hosts’ criticism of it. He has also turned his nose up at Trump’s claims of election fraud.
Fox News told Insider: “As we conclude the 2020 election cycle, Fox News Digital has realigned its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era. We are confident these changes will ensure the platform continues to deliver breakthrough reporting and insightful analysis surrounding major issues, both stateside and abroad.”
But insiders told The Daily Beast that the decision was likely politically motivated as the network, owned by the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, moves from news coverage toward more right-wing opinion segments. “There is a concerted effort to get rid of real journalists,” one former staffer told the publication. “They laid capable people off who were actual journalists and not blind followers.”
After Fox’s Arizona call, viewers said they would abandon the network for ones further to the right, like Newsmax and One America News. The call might have contributed to Fox’s ratings slump: Viewership has plunged by about 20% since the election, Forbes reported.
And in the week after the Capitol siege on January 6, Fox News got lower ratings than both CNN and MSNBC for the first time since 2000.
Other staffers who spoke with The Daily Beast suggested that Porter Berry, the network’s digital editor-in-chief, directed the layoffs.
“This is all Porter. Both an ideological purge and a purge of people he was threatened by,” a former Fox News staffer told The Daily Beast.
“Porter’s uncomfortable around and is suspicious of experienced editors,” an insider added. “They make him feel inept because his background is entirely in TV.”
Fox News denied these allegations.
“Since taking over Fox News Digital in 2018, Porter Berry has not only innovated the platform, but ushered in extraordinary growth by cultivating one of the most engaged and loyal audiences in news,” the representative told Insider. “We are incredibly proud of his accomplishments and look forward to continued success thanks to his unrivaled digital strategy.”
Multiple staffers described the layoffs to The Daily Beast as a “purge.” One former staffer said they were “essentially the final nail in the coffin for digital journalism at Fox.”
Bill Sammon, the network’s managing editor in Washington, DC, is also leaving, though he said it’s because he’s retiring.
On Tuesday, the former Fox News host Shepard Smith spoke out against the network, calling its opinion coverage “injurious to society.” “I don’t know how some people sleep at night,” Smith added.