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Fox News has reportedly fired at least 16 staffers. They include political editor Chris Stirewalt, who defended the network's Arizona election call that angered Trump.

  • Fox News has fired Chris Stirewalt, who defended the network calling Arizona for President-elect Biden, a move that angered President Donald Trump.
  • The network has also dismissed at least 15 other staffers, sources told The Daily Beast.
  • Fox attributed the lay-offs to restructuring, but insiders said the decision was a calculated "purge."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Fox News has reportedly laid off political editor Chris Stirewalt and more than a dozen other staffers in what insiders described as a "blood bath."

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 12 current and former Fox News employees.

A Fox spokesperson told Insider that the dismissals were part of an ongoing restructure.

Stirewalt, who was laid off Tuesday night, had become a controversial figure among fans of the network after he defended Fox's early projection that President-elect Joe Biden would win Arizona in the election, based on an analysis by Fox News' Decision Desk.

President Donald Trump himself was angered by the Arizona announcement, and his officials desperately, and in vain, urged Fox to retract its call.

Stirewalt refused to reverse his support for the decision desk's Arizona call, despite other Fox hosts speaking against it. He has also turned his nose up at Trump's claims of election fraud.

Fox News told Insider that, "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," the spokesperson said. 

But insiders told The Daily Beast that the decision is likely to be politically motivated as the network, which is owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, moves towards more right-wing opinion segments rather than news coverage.

"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."

Read more: Lawmakers, Hill staffers, and reporters recount the harrowing experience as a violent pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol to protest the electoral-vote count

After Stirewalt backed Fox's projection of Biden for Arizona, viewers said they would abandon the network for ones further to the right, like Newsmax and One America News. The Arizona call may have contributed to Fox's ratings slump: Viewership has plunged about 20% following the president election, Forbes reported.

And in the week following the Capitol siege on January 6, Fox News got lower ratings than both CNN and MSNBC for the first time since 2000.

Other staffers suggested Porter Berry, the network's digital editor-in-chief, may have directed the moves. 

"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," a spokesperson 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 lay-offs as a "purge," and one said "it's essentially the final nail in the coffin for digital journalism at Fox."

Bill Sammon, the network's DC managing editor, is also leaving Fox News, though he said this is so he can retire.

On Tuesday, 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," he added.

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