This reporting confirms that creating a “red mirage” was a very calculated and serious attempt by Trump to steal the election:
As Trump prepared for Election Day, he was focused on the so-called red mirage. This was the idea that early vote counts would look better for Republicans than the final tallies because Democrats feared COVID-19 more and would disproportionately cast absentee votes that would take longer to count. Trump intended to exploit this — to weaponize it for his vast base of followers.
His preparations were deliberate, strategic and deeply cynical. Trump wanted Americans to believe a falsehood that there were two elections — a legitimate election composed of in-person voting, and a separate, fraudulent election involving bogus mail-in ballots for Democrats.
In the initial hours after returns closed, it looked like his plan could work. Trump was on track for easy wins in Florida and Ohio, and held huge — though deceptive — early leads in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
And, as always, it’s not just Trump — Republican state legislators had to go along by refusing to allow early counting.
But critical to upending this plan was Fox News calling Arizona for Biden on election night, which as we’ve discussed before the Trump campaign tried furiously to reverse:
The top officials tried to force Fox to retract its call. Kushner called Rupert Murdoch, who said he would see what was going on. Hicks, a former Fox executive, texted current Fox executive and ex-White House staffer Raj Shah. Hicks also gave Fox News president Jay Wallace’s phone number to top Trump campaign officials. The Trump campaign’s senior-most officials aggressively texted anchors MacCallum and Baier. Throughout the night, a number of Fox commentators friendly to Trump — including Tucker Carlson — questioned the Arizona call on the air. But the call stood.
It would be a serious mistake, however, to assume that the failure of Trump’s election theft scheme was inevitable. It was, in fact, highly contingent. Had a couple of the closest states flipped the other way, had uncle Rupert not cut bait, had the top Georgia Republicans shown the same level of integrity as Josh Hawley — Biden becoming president despite being the clear voice of the American people was in fact highly contingent.