Steve Bannon wanted Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo to run for Senate, new texts reveal

Steve Bannon worked to console Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election and urged her to run for Sen Chuck Schumer’s seat in New York.

The messages between Mr Bannon and Bartiromo was made public this week as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6bn defamation lawsuit against Fox News for its coverage following the election, and show Bartiromo’s anguish at Mr Trump’s political demise.

“I am watching the world move forward. & it’s so upsetting steve,” Bartiromo wrote to Mr Bannon on November 10, 2020 in messages first reported by Mediaite. “I want to see massive fraud exposed. Will he be able to turn this around. I told my team we are not allowed to say pres elect at sll (sic). Not in scripts or in banners on air. Until this moves through the courts.”

“Seventy-one million voters will never accept Biden,” Mr Bannon wrote back. “This process is to destroy his presidency before it starts. IF it even starts.”

Bartiromo reiterated her despair at Mr Trump’s defeat, telling Mr Bannon that she was “scared and sad.”

Maria Bartiromo (Getty Images for Women's Forum o)
Maria Bartiromo (Getty Images for Women's Forum o)

“You are our fighter,” Mr Bannon replied. “Enough with the sad! We need u.”

Mr Bannon then told Bartiromo that he and elements of the far right movement aligned with him were eyeing the television host to make a run against the Democratic Senate leader in 2022.

“We want you to run against Schumer,” Mr Bannon said. “This is your moment.”

Ultimately, Bartiromo did not choose to make a foray into electoral politics. She instead continued her television career with Fox, frequently peddling election denialism. The Republican nomination for US Senate in New York instead went to another former television personality, Joe Pinion, who lost to Mr Schumer by a substantial margin.

The lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems has shed substantial light both on how Fox News worked to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the 2020 election and how members of Mr Trump’s circle worked to do the same.

In the messages with Bartiromo, Mr Bannon laid out a strategy for holding onto or reclaiming power in the country. Most of it didn’t happen.

“1. We either close on Trumps victory or delegitimize Biden 2. Win both seats in Georgia 3. Win back house in 2022 4. Elect u to the senate 5. IF we don’t close on Trump victory now have trump declare for 2024 the day after taking back House and your win in Nov 2022,” Mr Bannon wrote.