ONE OF THE ELECTIONS that garnered the most national attention in 2022 was the primary for the Republican nomination for Arizona governor, where Fox 10 KSAZ-TV’s Kari Lake is defeating attorney Karrin Taylor Robson (a contender backed by the GOP establishment) with 80% of the projected vote. In a race that was even, controversial and contentious between the two candidates.
Lake is, for most of the traditional media, a disruptive and radical candidate. This should come as no surprise, as the Fox 10 anchor has unequivocally opposed issues supported by the national press, such as mask and vaccine mandates.
Lake v. the establishment
Likewise, her rhetoric on electoral integrity coincides with that of former President Trump, who has endorsed her candidacy in a clear challenge to the Republican establishment that closed ranks around Robson, who found support from former VP Mike Pence, AZ Gov. Doug Ducey, the National Border Patrol Council and former state governors Jan Brewer and Fife Symington.
But beyond these two factions within the GOP clashing over the discourse on election integrity — with Lake attacking the current system while calling for more electoral safety measures and the GOP establishment backing the system by soliciting the public’s trust — both Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson agree on many issues central to the Republican base. These issues include endorsing stronger border security, protecting the unborn, keeping children from “woke” curricula in schools, and seeking to alleviate the ill effects of rampant inflation.
“As governor, I will issue a declaration of invasion, finish President Trump’s wall, blow up the cartel’s drug tunnels and surveillance drones, and deploy the Arizona National Guard to stop illegals from entering,” Lake said in one of her campaign ads on illegal migration.
Lake has also said she would like to build Trump’s proposed border wall without authorization from the federal government, which is likely illegal.
— Kari Lake for AZ Governor (@KariLake) July 8, 2022
In another video, she took aim at the controversial curricula being pushed by some school districts nationwide: “Between anti-American history that’s being taught, inappropriate sex education, and the racist critical race theory, or as I like to refer to it all, woke curriculum, it is teaching our children hatred, and it’s also setting them up for failure and misery.”
However, where Kari Lake fully distances herself from her Republican opponent, beyond the platitude about electoral integrity, is in her own crusade against those who used to be her colleagues and allies for more than two decades: the media.
Less than three minutes that changed Kari Lake’s life forever
Kari Lake had worked for 22 years as an anchor at Fox 10 KSAZ-TV, one of Arizona’s top stations. She was a well-regarded journalist who was accustomed to sharing brief bullet points on the most salient breaking news stories.
However, in March 2021, she had been off the air for three months, apparently for personal reasons, until one day she decided to share shocking news for Arizona citizens: her retirement from journalism.
In a video posted on Rumble, the conservative alternative platform to YouTube, an unmoving Lake stared into the camera to tell the public that she no longer felt comfortable practicing journalism due to the radical shift in news coverage.
“The media needs more balance in coverage and a wider range of viewpoints represented in every newsroom at every level and at each position,” said Kari Lake, in that video that is barely over two and a half minutes. “In the last few years I haven’t felt proud to be a member of the media. I’m sure there are other journalists out there who feel the same way.”
“I found myself reading news copy that I didn’t believe was fully truthful, or only told part of the story, and I began to fear that I was contributing to the fear and division in this country by continuing on in this profession,” she continued. “It’s been a serious struggle for me and I no longer want to do this job anymore.”
In closing, Kari Lake promised everyone that from then on, only “the truth” about what she thinks would come out of her mouth; and she said that God would guide her to find a place that matches her values. Three months later, she announced her candidacy for governor.
Her video was just the preamble to a candidacy that has been highly critical of the mainstream media. Similar to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and FL Governor DeSantis’s critical rhetoric against the corporate media, Lake sought, in effect, a media war that has earned her many harsh headlines, including the label of radical contender.
But as an article in Los Angeles Times says, her take against the media, far from hurting her, has benefited her by projecting an image of sincerity and courage for daring to leave her journalism career to stand up for her values and beliefs.
“[She’s] willing to quit [her] job because [she] feels like they’re twisting [her] script,” Kevin McNichols, a 52-year-old retired law enforcement officer, told the LA Times. “It’s just admirable.”
It’s not surprising that Republican voters think this way, as the media has painstakingly managed to make it so that some of the public no longer trusts them. It’s no longer just a matter of conservatives not trusting the liberal media, but even independents are ceasing to believe in the press, in something pundits are calling a crisis of confidence rarely seen in the history of American journalism.
This is where Kari Lake made the difference over Taylor Robson on Election Day, where Lake emerged victorious despite the fact that her opponent spent or up to five times as much to fund her race.
The Republican base knows this, however, Lake has a big challenge now that she appears to be the official candidate: convince the undecideds that she has the ability to run a good race despite her zero experience in public administration, and unite the entire GOP, especially the establishment, to have a chance to beat the Democrats in the general election.
Update: 3/8/2022 – 14:30 ET: An earlier version of this article was published during election day, it was updated with partial results that give Kari Lake as the possible winner in the absence of official confirmation.