More than a year after Donald Trump decisively lost the 2020 presidential election, there are still some pro-Trump Fox News personalities who believe the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen.
Fox News contributor Sean Duffy, a former Republican congressman and ex-cast member of MTV’s The Real World, used concerns over a newly identified COVID-19 variant on Friday to baselessly accuse Democrats of “cheating” in the 2020 elections.
Filling in as one of the hosts on late-afternoon opinion show The Five, Duffy quickly pivoted from his co-hosts’ complaints that President Joe Biden hasn’t done enough to stem the tide of COVID-19 to insisting that Democrats have exploited the ongoing pandemic.
“I think that if you look at the benefit of COVID for the Democrat Party, they won the last election based on COVID,” Duffy said. “They were able to change election rules. So made it far easier to cheat and potentially steal different portions of the electorate in the last election.”
Lone liberal panelist Jessica Tarlov quickly interjected, asking Duffy if he was indeed saying “the election was stolen,” prompting him to double down.
“Do I think there was cheating in my state of Wisconsin? Hell yes, there was cheating! Now did it change the results? I don’t know.”
After Tarlov wondered if Duffy was saying “you don’t know or you know,” the one-time reality TV star argued that he didn’t “say it changed the election results.” Co-host Dagen McDowell, meanwhile, jumped in and told the pair to “fight about this in the break” and “just stay on COVID!”
Duffy, however, was given a chance to finish his point. Claiming that the government “can impose broader rules in regard to elections that will benefit Democrats,” he then wondered “why haven’t we shut down the border and stop people coming over the border.” He went on to suggest this was part of an ulterior Democratic plan.
“With COVID, if you can shut down an economy, more people are dependent on the government,” he declared. “Who is the party of government-dependence? Democrats. So I think they see this as a victory for them to win elections.”
McDowell then offered to allow Tarlov to rebut Duffy before moving on to another panelist, only for the liberal Fox contributor to demur and give another co-host a chance to speak. McDowell gave a partial endorsement of Duffy’s remarks before moving on.
“To Sean’s point, I worry about overreaction and people using this,” she stated. “Again, when do people give up civil liberties and freedoms? It’s when they’re in fear and so it benefits, certainly liberals, that like that level of control and power.”
A large number of Republicans and right-wing pundits have argued since last year’s elections that Trump only lost due to widespread election fraud, with many claiming the increase in mail-in voting in battleground states due to the pandemic was illegal and unconstitutional. Dozens of courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have thrown out these cases contesting the election results.
Fox News, for its part, has largely tamped down election denialism on its airwaves since Joe Biden was inaugurated, most likely due to the pending defamation lawsuits from voting software firms Smartmatic and Dominion over election fraud lies that voting machines rigged votes. Fox News has filed motions to dismiss both lawsuits, citing First Amendment protections.