If you're running a stealth campaign for the Republican ticket in 2012, you can count on Fox News to play along every step of the way. Particularly illustrative was Fox and Friends Sunday's gushing over Texas Governor Rick Perry's June 18 speech at the Republican Leadership Conference. While discussing whether Perry would enter the race, co-host Clayton Morris lauded the governor for having "accomplished quite a lot" and having "quite a record" as co-host Dave Briggs interjected, "Right to the top! He goes right to the top!"
But Perry isn't the only one; Fox still revels in the idea that the former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin might make a presidential bid, too. Judge Napolitano left little doubt during his interview with Palin during last Thursday's Freedom Watch (see our softball questions of the week).
So who's winning the Fox Primary? Each week at Media Matters, we watch the interviews, crunch the numbers, and tell you what Fox is up to in the presidential campaign.
Last Week's Results
Total time: 3:06*; Total appearances: 25*
Most Total Airtime on Fox: Newt Gingrich (41 minutes)
Most Total Appearances: John Bolton (5 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Appearances: Fox and Friends and Your World with Neil Cavuto (5 appearances each)*
Longest Candidate Interview: Your World with Neil Cavuto (17 minutes with Rick Perry)
Softball Question(s) of the Week: Napolitano's interview with Sarah Palin on the June 16 edition of Freedom Watch gives new meaning to the phrase "using kid gloves."
NAPOLITANO: You recently took a bus tour throughout the northeast, and it caused an enormous stir on the part of the media. In part because they didn't know where the bus was going to go next, but they wanted to be with you, and they wanted to see to whom you're going to speak, and they wanted to hear what your words are.
You must know from that experience that if you entered the Republican presidential race tomorrow or in the next month or so, it would be a game changer, that many of the tea party folks would coalesce behind you, that most of the current conservatives would say you are the genuine article. Have you given serious thought to how you, Sarah Palin, single-handedly could change this game and give the White House fits?
PALIN: I would love to give the White House fits. I would --
PALIN: Because, you know, I would love to stir it up even more and get the electorate to really start thinking about what the solutions are to these great challenges facing America and how it is that we're going to create jobs, how it is that we're going to get this economy back on the right track, judge. So, I would love to be able to shake it up, but I also know it's not about me, it's not Sarah Palin personally, it's about a message.
It's about what it is that I represent. What I represent is this understanding of what the middle class desires in their government. And, basically, at this point in watching government grow and overreach and overtax and create such uncertainty in the marketplace, basically, what we in the middle class want is for government to just get out of the way.
Let the private sector grow and thrive, let our job creators keep more of what we earn and produce so we can hire more people, and that'll get the economy rolling along. So, I know it's the message. It's not Sarah Palin up here in Wasilla, Alaska, and what it is that I personally bring to the table.
NAPOLITANO: Who better than you to deliver that message? Is there anyone up there on that stage without you there that in your view is the genuine article?
PALIN: There are a lot of genuine articles out there, a lot of folks who understand those tea party principles and they're common sense conservatives. They understand the free market. They understand that, unless, we change course very, very rapidly here, our country will be bankrupt.
We will be beholden to foreign countries, and, um, there are many out there who -- some declared, some not declared yet, some may never declare to want to run for public office who know what they're doing, judge, and they do want to help this country, and they do want to serve for the right reasons with servants' hearts.
NAPOLITANO: You are teasing the daylights out of our office by saying some declared, some not declared, some who may declared, some who may not declared because you may be talking about yourself.
(A table of the June 13-19 data is available here.)
The Numbers Since June 1
Total time: 8:53*; Total appearances: 61*
Most Total Airtime on Fox since June 1: Donald Trump (1 hour and 14 minutes)
Most Total Appearances since June 1: John Bolton (11 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Appearances since June 1: Fox and Friends (10 appearances)
Longest Candidate Interview since June 1: Stossel (40 minutes with Gary Johnson)
(A table of all the data since June 1 is available here.)
Previous Fox Primary Reports
Media Matters searched the Nexis database for appearances on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Sunday for the 14 declared and potential presidential candidates in question: Michele Bachmann, John Bolton, Herman Cain, 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.
*Correction: We have dropped all DeMint data from the report. During Laura Ingraham's June 14 show, DeMint told the conservative talk radio host that he is "not considering" a run for president in 2012. Media Matters regrets the error.