The Road to Jan 6 Final

Fox News Called Arizona for Biden, Turning January 6 Into the Day of Reckoning

In this daily series, Newsweek explores the steps that led to the January 6 Capitol Riot.

Protestors in Arizona, many in MAGA costume carrying blue Trump-Pence signs and waving Trump flags, converged on the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, the local vote counting center, on November 4. Rep. Paul Gosar, who represented Arizona's 4th District, showed up. Mike Cernovich, an alt-right media gadfly and originator of the Pizzagate conspiracy, drove in from California. Members of the Arizona Patriots Movement were spotted in the crowd. The news media reported the presence of QAnon supporters.

The crowd shouted "Fox News Sucks" in protest of the network calling Arizona in Joe Biden's favor. "They're not going to steal this election from us, are they?" Gosar yelled into the crowd.

There was a lot of talk about SharpieGate, an alleged Democratic Party plot to steal the election from Donald Trump. The rumor was that ballots in Arizona filled out with Sharpies, the pen favored by the president and thus used by his supporters, were not being read by the vote-scanning machines. Actual voters testified to this story.

Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union tweeted about a stolen election. Trump's sons followed. The claim popped up on TikTok and 4Chan and other social media sites favored by Trumpers.

Voting protest
While Arizona protestors demanded "Count All Votes," the cry in Michigan was "Stop the Count." Trump supporters protest outside the Maricopa County Election Department as counting continues after the US presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 5, 2020. OLIVIER TOURON/AFP via Getty Images

As the protest grew, CNN reported that the protestors were "right wing" and that SharpieGate was "misinformation." Politico labeled it all "baseless conspiracy." Protestors were not "citing evidence," said The New York Times. Some of the protestors, Reuters said, were armed with "rifles and handguns."

"I won't accept a Biden victory," one protestor told the Times. "I don't want to live under Communist rule."

As the protests in Arizona unfolded, anti-Trump social media filled with counter-protests. One commenter said that good people—many elderly—were counting the votes and that they shouldn't be harassed. Donald Trump incited this mob, one commenter said. It's not an uprising but an organized protest, said another.

The voting machines themselves came under suspicion. There was talk that the Supreme Court would intervene. Soon an increasing number of tweets were labeled false information and flagged, and users on Facebook were suspended and even barred. In a reversal of the usual positions, many progressive and liberal Democrats began to applaud censorship. They called on the police to do more or clamored for the military to intervene. Many of those who opposed Trump had, 20 years earlier, shouted "Not my president" to protest George W. Bush's controversial win over Al Gore.

"Why do these people get to stand around, terrorize, and interfere with an important part of American democracy, while those protesting racial injustice have rubber bullets and tear gas launched at them???'" one post said.

"So where's the national guard oh yea their all white," said another.

A key word used by both sides was "they." "They" believed the election was rigged or alternatively "they" dismissed their foes as brainwashed nutjobs.

Some of the protestors in Arizona made their way into the offices to inquire about the count before being asked to leave, which they peacefully did. The crowd grew. Another protest commenced at the State Capitol. Count all ballots, they demanded in Arizona.

But in Michigan on November 4th, protestors chanted "stop the count."

Mail-in ballots, now potentially responsible for deciding the next president, had become the hanging chad of 2020: even after votes were cast and counted and certified, the actual election became just one day in a continuum.

What the anti-Trumpers missed was that November 3rd was never an absolute end for pro-Trumpers because Donald Trump's election in 2016 was never the beginning. There was vast misunderstood class in American society—disgruntled with the elite, the news media and with Washington—that elected Trump in the first place.

The battleground became January 6th, the day that Congress would accept the electoral votes as transmitted from each state recorder's office. Finally, the hard core believed, finally the people would be heard.

One commenter on the Washington Post wrote on November 4: "Into the good night they should gently disappear chanting 'We were cheated' because they were, just not by whom they thought."