As the presidential primary race heats up, it's become increasingly clear that the road to the Republican nomination runs through Fox News.
Last week, for example, On The Record's Greta Van Susteren hopped aboard Sarah Palin's bus as the former Alaskan governor visited historic American sites as part of her "One Nation" tour. Van Susteren, whose husband advises Palin, devoted the entire first half of her May 31 show to the interview, asking hard-hitting questions like, "So Governor, we're on the bus. Whose idea was this bus?"
In order to keep tabs on Fox's non-stop parade of declared and potential Republican presidential candidates (some of whom, like Palin, still have lucrative Fox contracts), Media Matters is launching a new regular feature. Each week, we'll watch the interviews, crunch the numbers, and tell you what Fox is up to in the presidential campaign.
Most Airtime on Fox: Sarah Palin (46 minutes)
Most Total Appearances: John Bolton (5 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Appearances: Hannity (3 appearances: Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney)
Longest Candidate Interview: Fox News Sunday (25 minutes with Sarah Palin)
Softball of the Week: Fox Business host Eric Bolling's June 3 interview with Michele Bachmann on Follow the Money.
BOLLING: We're clearly not growing. Congresswoman, what -- what -- what does it tell you? What do we need to be doing? What do we need to be focusing on to create jobs, not just 54,000 jobs. Frankly, that's way too low.
BACHMANN: Yes. Clearly, Eric, what we have to do is massively cut government spending. Government is consuming approximately 25 percent now of GDP. That is -- that is a number that we haven't seen before. That has to stop. Government has to stop spending and then, second, we embrace pro-growth policies where we cut the taxes on the job creators. If we do that, we will incentivize job creators to know that they can keep more of what they make, profit is a good thing. I'm a job creator as my husband is as well. We started a successful company and I'm a federal tax lawyer. I understand the devastation of high taxes. If we do that and if we do the massive regulatory burden that companies labor under such as the Environmental Protection Agency, if we do that, there's no question, we'll see private jobs.
BOLLING: I love that. I love that. Cut out the EPA. We talked about that before. Earlier today, President Obama spent some time at a Chrysler plant and he had a lot of blame to go around for that meager job number that -- that came out this morning. He blamed Bush but we're used to that. He blamed an earthquake in Japan. Ok, whatever, maybe. But then he blamed gasoline and that's the one that really kind of drove home for me. Congresswoman, he blamed gasoline prices but the gasoline prices at $3.79 are his fault.
BACHMANN: Well, that's right and the President has to own that, Eric, because the day before the President took office as President of the United States, gasoline prices were $1.83 a gallon and, due in large part to the President's failed policies on energy, now gasoline is approaching $3.79 a gallon nationally. It varies across the country at any given time or day. But, clearly, the President is not bringing down the cost of energy and the good news is, according to the Congressional Research Service, America is the number one nation in the world, Eric, in terms of being energy resource rich. We should be able to at least bring our prices down to what they were the day before the President took office.
BOLLING: And, you -- you make a great point about government spending. We had to spend $800 billion on stimulus, another $600 billion on QE2, who knows how much on QE3, 4, and 5. What should government do?
BACHMANN: Well, live within its means. The people have tried to speak. They have been desperate in speaking. They've told the politicians you've got to stop the spending.
BOLLING: Thank you.
BACHMANN: You said, "It's the economy, stupid." It's the spending, stupid. Cut the spending. We don't want it any more. That's what the politicians need to do, Eric. They need to listen to the voice of the people because the people have got it exactly right.
(A table of the data is available here.)
The Declared And Potential Presidential Candidates
Michele Bachmann. Representative from Minnesota. "If there was any doubt that Rep. Michele Bachmann was preparing for a presidential bid, she eliminated it during an appearance at a GOP meet-and-greet in New Hampshire on Monday evening." [The Washington Post, 5/30/11]
John Bolton. Fox News contributor and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under former President George W. Bush. "Bolton ... said in a brief interview Saturday night that Mr. Huckabee's announcement made him more likely to enter the race." [The New York Times, 5/14/11]
Herman Cain. Businessman and pundit from Georgia. Cain announced his candidacy on May 21, 2011.
Jim DeMint. Senator from South Carolina. "DeMint ... says he is considering running for president after frustrated conservative activists have pleaded with him to run." [The Hill, 6/1/11]
Newt Gingrich. Former Speaker of the House. Gingrich announced his candidacy on May 11, 2011.
Rudy Giuliani. Former Mayor of New York City. "Giuliani said today he is pondering whether to run again for the presidency and will decide by the end of summer." [The Boston Globe, 6/2/11]
Jon Huntsman. Former Governor of Utah and former U.S. Ambassador to China under President Obama. "Speaking to reporters Friday after addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in the nation's capital, the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China said he hopes to have an announcement 'very soon.' " [CNN, 6/3/11]
Gary Johnson. Former Governor of New Mexico. "Johnson (R-NM) announced Thursday morning that he's running for president in 2012." [The Raw Story, 4/21/11]
Sarah Palin. Fox News contributor, former Governor of Alaska, and 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate. "Palin is fortifying her small staff of advisers, buying a house in Arizona -- where associates have said she could base a national campaign -- and reviving her schedule of public appearances. The moves are the most concrete signals yet that Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska, is seriously weighing a Republican presidential bid." [The New York Times, 5/25/11]
Ron Paul. Representative from Texas. Paul announced his candidacy on May 13, 2011.
Rick Perry. Governor of Texas. "Perry acknowledged Friday that he will consider a bid for president, reversing his past opposition to the race and setting up a period of intense speculation about whether he will run and whether he can win." [The Washington Post, 5/27/11]
Tim Pawlenty. Former Governor of Minnesota. Pawlenty announced his candidacy on May 22, 2011.
Mitt Romney. Former Governor of Massachusetts. Romney announced his candidacy on June 2, 2011.
Rick Santorum. Former Senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum announced his candidacy on June 6, 2011.
Donald Trump. NBC reality show host and businessman. "Donald Trump jumped back into the spotlight Wednesday, saying he will 'absolutely' run for president as an Independent if the Republicans nominate a weak candidate." [New York Daily News, 6/1/11]
Media Matters searched the Nexis database for appearances on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Sunday for the 15 declared and potential presidential candidates in question: Michele Bachmann, John Bolton, Herman Cain, Jim DeMint, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump. For programs where a transcript was unavailable, Media Matters reviewed the raw video.