Local Fox Station Accidentally Airs Test Election Results With Democrat Ahead–And Yeah, What Could Go Wrong?
Phoenix Fox affiliate accidentally aired test election results with Katie Hobbs ahead of Kari Lake prompting conspiracy theories online.
The race for Arizona governor between MAGA Republican conspiracy theorist Kari Lake and Democratic Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs took an predictable turn this week when a Phoenix news station accidentally aired test election results that showed Hobbs ahead.
Local Fox affiliate Fox 10 mistakenly ran the test election results during its evening news broadcast Thursday in an onscreen graphic in a corner of the screen that attributed the results to the Associated Press.
Hobbs had led the race consistently until two weeks ago when Lake began to overtake her in the polls, a lead she has since widened to an average of almost three percentage points.
Given the polling and the times in which we live, Fox 10's mess-up immediately spawned unhinged conspiracy theories about election rigging.
The image went viral after fellow conspiracy theorist Republican Representative Paul Gosar—one of former Republican President Donald Trump's closest allies who is implicated in the planning of the January 6 insurrection and frequently parrots Trump's 2020 election fraud claims—shared a screengrab of the graphic to his Twitter feed.
\u201cHey @fox10 what\u2019s with the fake election graphic that\u2019s got Hobbs over \u2066@KariLake\u2069? Is this the same Fox News that called Arizona for Biden 5 minutes after the polls closed?\u201d— Paul Gosar (@Paul Gosar) 1666922218
He included accusations Fox 10 and the AP were attempting to rig the Arizona governor's race along with the screenshot.
His tweet read:
"Hey @fox10 what’s with the fake election graphic that’s got Hobbs over @KariLake?"
"Is this the same Fox News that called Arizona for Biden 5 minutes after the polls closed?"
Lake, who herself was a news anchor at Fox 10 for 22 years before going into politics last year, is a QAnon devotee who has run her campaign almost solely on a platform composed of Trump 2020 election conspiracy theories.
So naturally her supporters immediately took what Gosar served up and ran with it, posting absurd accusations of Fox 10 trying to rig the election.
One Facebook poster called the mistake "voter intimidation," which Arizona has a serious problem with: Right-wing vigilantes patrolling ballot boxes in the state that it has resulted in a federal lawsuit.
Fox 10 explained and apologized for the mistake on both Facebook and Twitter.
\u201cThis graphic was never meant to go on air \u2014 the numbers were only part of a test. The station has taken steps to make sure this cannot happen again.\u201d— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX 10 Phoenix) 1666924812
Other TV stations took to social media to explain how the AP's election results system works and how Fox 10's mess-up likely happened, in an attempt to help tamp down the outrage.
\u201cMaking you aware that before every election night, the @AP tests its election results system --which we use-- to make sure it's running properly.\n\nYou can't test it properly without putting numbers in to test it. \n\nThis is not some nefarious, election-rigging plot. FYI.\u201d— WTVC NewsChannel 9 (@WTVC NewsChannel 9) 1666965546
One such station, WTVC in Tennessee, explained fake results have to be input into the AP's system to test it and that is the reason Fox 10's graphic contained actual numbers, rather than "some nefarious, election-rigging plot."
But as you might guess, it has had little impact on the conspiratorial outrage on social media, and many found the whole thing deeply exasperating.
\u201cThis happens - if you have AP election access, there are dummy results put up to test the system. But my God this was the wrong state/race for a blunder. Wade through the comments, people think the station should be sued for trying to rig the election. https://t.co/OKkxOMeoE8\u201d— David Weigel (@David Weigel) 1666962487
\u201c@FOX10Phoenix It\u2019s not that big of a deal. Nobody died. All votes will be counted. Relax.\u201d— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX 10 Phoenix) 1666924812
\u201cAccidentally broadcasting test graphics in the lead-up to election night is practically a time-honored tradition that happens every single cycle. Lots of people and MAGA influencers in the replies treating this like it's a giant conspiracy theory https://t.co/VKNKcrqdIg\u201d— Brandon Wall (@Brandon Wall) 1666966196
\u201c@MMMDigits @FOX10Phoenix Everything is a conspiracy. It must be hard living in that kind of mindset\u201d— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX 10 Phoenix) 1666924812
\u201c\ud83e\udd26\ud83c\udffd\u200d\u2640\ufe0f Great, more conspiracy theories \n\nhttps://t.co/Adauq4737F\u201d— \ud83c\uddf2\ud83c\uddfd\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 Michelle Mendoza (@\ud83c\uddf2\ud83c\uddfd\ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 Michelle Mendoza) 1666974132
\u201c@FOX10Phoenix *sigh*\n\nToo late. You sent the conspiracy theorists into overdrive, and there's nothing stopping it now. \ud83d\ude11\u201d— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX 10 Phoenix) 1666924812
\u201cI didn't think it was possible but things are about to get dumber in my state.\u201d— Retail Archaeology (@Retail Archaeology) 1666925581
\u201cOur Take: Arizona's @FOX10Phoenix & the @AP just have to be better at their jobs. There is no excuse for what they did. Especially in these times of tribalism & where trust between the folks is at an all time low. Absolutely unacceptable. Do better. \n\n#Election2022 #Arizona\u201d— ElectionRecon (@ElectionRecon) 1666927969
November 8 simply can't come soon enough.