How An Obama-Backing Arizona News Anchor Became Trump’s Pick for Governor


Phoenix — To the audience, Carrie Lake seemed to change almost overnight from a popular local news anchor to an unapologetic, disapproving candidate for Arizona Governor and Donald Trump aide.

As Lake heads into the August 2 primaries, her main Republican opponent is trying to make the race for authenticity, questioning whether Lake, who once donated to former President Barack Obama’s campaign, has so far honestly shifted the political spectrum toward Trump’s. far right.

Many of those who were closest to Lake before she went to MAGA told NBC News that her development was gradual. They maintain that Lake is, for the most part, a true believer, fueled by the allure of a growing number of social media followers, and a kinship with Trump’s rant and frustration with the “political propriety” she had to uphold for years as a local. News Anchor.

For more information on this story, watch MSNBC’s Morning Joe today at 6:00 a.m. ET

NBC News spoke to 11 former colleagues and close friends of Lake’s who requested anonymity to speak openly about their now-non-existent relationships with her, citing their ongoing work in the news industry or reluctance due to the possibility of Lake or her supporters being targeted. , including over 300,000 followers on Twitter. Three of Lake’s associates who have known her over the past two decades have spoken formally about this story.

Several former colleagues at Lake’s at KSAZ, the Phoenix Fox subsidiary where Lake has worked as a broadcaster for more than 20 years, have pointed to her growing social media presence over the past decade as an early indication of her changing political stance. The social media team at her station will generate daily updates on which of the reporters in Phoenix are attracting the most online engagement and post them in the office. Fellows dubbed the ensuing competition the “Hunger Games.”

Carrie became obsessed with “The Hunger Games”. “Every day, Carrie would go to the ‘Hunger Games’ to see how she was doing,” said one of Lake’s former co-workers. “The more controversy, the greater the participation.”

The colleague noted: “She was number one most of the time. She was actively competing with others.”

When Donald Trump emerged as a candidate in 2015, Lake privately began to exchange sympathy for and rejection of his nomination.political correction“According to many friends. Hey Spread In December after Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims: “All those who criticize Trump describe him as ‘bigot’, ‘racist’, ‘disingenuous’, ‘Nazi’, etc. Threatening more attacks on American soil, which potentially To be in preparation now.”

Former President Donald Trump, left, introduces Arizona Republican nominee for Governor Carrie Lake, right, as Trump speaks at a rally on January 15, 2022, in Florence, Arizona. Ross D. Franklin / AP . file

Lake has been described by her former friends as always being stubborn and eager to discuss even unimportant topics. “No one wanted to stand up against her cause,” said one of her former colleagues, “she couldn’t have admitted she was wrong.” “That was when her Twitter following exploded — when I started getting food, when I started getting love. I exercised strength with these followers.”

Another source formerly close to Lake is not surprised to see where she is now. “[Lake] He had the personality that was kind of different to this. We never had Trump before.”

Those close to Lake say there were several key events that laid the groundwork for her radical transformation. As she sought to win the “Hunger Games” and garner more followers, Lake’s social media became even more provocative.

In early 2016, she defend high school students who spelling Bring out the N word in T-shirts dedicated to a photo of a large class, and describe the students’ decision as a “mistake” that does not warrant a public outcry.

Then in 2018, Lake falsely asserted that a grassroots movement calling for the state government to increase investment in public education was in fact a front for marijuana legalization. At that time, Lake encountered general reactiondelete her post and I apologize To make an ‘incorrect conclusion’. But many close friends remember that Lake was particularly defensive about her promotion of the baseless claim.

One year later, Lake came under scrutiny for joining Parler, a social media app favored by the pro-Trump right, and faced internal pressure to remove her account.

When an agitator explained to Lake that management wanted her out of Parler, in a The video was broadcast live on the station’s website Unbeknownst to them at the time, Lake visibly annoyed replied, “I’m reaching for the people.”

Rod Haberer, a former executive producer of the station who first began working with Lake in 1999, said he noticed that Lake began to change in 2017, inspired by social media and taking off more after a press trip to the Trump White House that year.

“Nothing was explicit about what she said on air. It was newsroom conversations,” Haberer said. “I could hear her say, ‘Why don’t we cover this or that? “And most of the time, it was gossip — things you pick up on the Internet.”

Diana Pike has served as the Director of Human Resources in Saudi Arabia for more than two decades and has said that Lake has increasingly opposed management over the years.

“She couldn’t have had a one-to-one face [conversation] Where you didn’t get angry in the end because you didn’t support her [her idea] Or she didn’t see her side of it,” said Pike, adding, “If she wasn’t going to get it, she’d stomp and frown. “

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, once a national conservative star in her own right, endorsed Lake’s primary opponent, Karen Taylor Robson. Brewer closely watched Lake’s fame in the Arizona press, which rose along with her political career, and said she was surprised by the changes in Lake.

“It’s kind of hard to understand that it was her — the same person I used to know,” Brewer said. “[Lake] She’s never looked as extreme as what we see now because she’s running for governor. It kind of baffled a lot of people — the change she’s been through.”

Lake declined interview requests for this story, telling only NBC News, “I’ve worked in media for 30 years, and I’m sorry if they can’t handle someone being conservative.” Lisa Dell, a paid campaign consultant and longtime friend of the Lakers, declined to speak to NBC News about her friend’s political development.

The changes pointed out by Lake’s former friends and colleagues are stark. Most of Lake’s friends who spoke to NBC News independently recalled that they often noted before 2015 that she was a Buddhist. None of them remember her mention of the Christian faith to which she now ascribes. While you donated to the Obama campaign in 2008And the By 2017, colleagues say she was watching national Fox News, daily, from her newsroom and defending then-President Trump.

Carrie Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, waves at the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce's 4th of July parade in Flagstaff, Arizona, on July 4, 2022.
Carrie Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, waves at the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce’s 4th of July parade in Flagstaff, Arizona, on July 4, 2022.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Cole, Inc. via Getty Images

During the early months of the pandemic, Lake began linking online to videos and stories blocking supposed treatments for COVID that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In November, when Fox News called the Arizona results in favor of Joe Biden, Lake backed down On air. Over the following weeks, she refused to refer to Biden as president-elect Promote conspiracy theories Sidney Powell, who was working as Trump’s lawyer at the time.

Around Christmas 2020, Lake said she was on medical leave and disappeared from the airwaves, Online publishing She “was not fired, demoted, or reprimanded.” But during this period, he joined you Missedanother social media platform popular with the far right, appeared in Florida at CPAC, the conservative Political Action Conference, using her KSAZ credentials despite being on vacation.

Days later, in March 2021, Lake officially broke up with KSAZ and stopped communicating with her former classmates who were once closer to her. On June 1, 2021, she announced her candidacy for governor.

Now, on the conservative campaign trail, Lake calls media outlets that once worked for the “devil’s right hand.”

A friend told NBC News, “I’d like to think the person I know is the real person and the person now is not the same person. I’d like to remember the old one.”

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