Last week, Sean Hannity twice hosted candidate Newt Gingrich on his Fox News program. In each interview, Hannity led with questions about negative campaign ads directed at the former Speaker of the House. And in both instances, Gingrich explained that he was "not going to engage in that kind of petty negativity" (January 2) and that "the most" he would do is "draw a contrast only on public policy" (January 5). Gingrich added, "I'm not going to go out and play gotcha games; I'm not going to distort Governor Romney's personal life or his personal records or his personal business."
During those interviews, Hannity was uncritical of Gingrich and characterized this "strategical or a tactical shift" (Hannity's words) as merely comparative in nature. On January 2, Hannity said, "You feel that up until this point you were trying to run a positive campaign. Now, kind of, in Iowa the gloves are off, and you are going to make comparisons between you and Governor Romney. Is that a fair analysis?" On January 5, Hannity said, "I have the ad right here. 'The choice. Only a bold Reagan conservative can defeat President Obama.' That ad is different than what you have been running. You weren't really running those comparative ads in Iowa."
Today, Gingrich's campaign released "For the Dogs," an ad that "revives the story of a Romney family road trip 25 years ago during which Romney strapped a dog carrier, with the family's Irish setter Seamus inside, to the roof of his station wagon for the 12-hour drive from Boston to Ontario, Canada." Will Hannity finally call Gingrich's campaigning negative or will he characterize this ad as "comparative," too? We'll be watching.
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: 4 hours and 41 minutes; Total appearances: 34
Most Total Airtime on Fox: Newt Gingrich (1 hour and 14 minutes)
Most Total Appearances: Newt Gingrich (8 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Total Candidate Airtime: Hannity (1 hour and 10 minutes)
Fox Show with the Most Candidate Appearances: Fox and Friends and Hannity (7 appearances each)
Longest Candidate Interview: Hannity (17 minutes with Rick Santorum)
Softball Question(s) of the Week: During the January 4, 2012, edition of Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano asked candidate Ron Paul this:
NAPOLITANO: What can you do to remind Republican voters that you are the only game changer -- that all the other Republican candidates agree in one form or another, basically, on the status quo as it is or as it was when George W. Bush was president?
(A table of the January 2 - 8, 2012 data is available here.)
The Numbers Since June 1, 2011
Total time: 83 hours and 34 minutes; Total appearances: 662
Most Total Airtime on Fox since June 1: Herman Cain (11 hours and 6 minutes)
Most Total Appearances since June 1: Ron Paul (74 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Total Candidate Airtime Since June 1: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (13 hours and 35 minutes)
Fox Show with the Most Candidate Appearances since June 1: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (98 appearances)
Longest Candidate Interview since June 1: Stossel (40 minutes with Gary Johnson)
(A table of all the data since June 1, 2011 is available here.)
Previous Fox Primary Reports
June 1 - 5, 2011
June 6 - 12, 2011
June 13 - 19, 2011
June 20 - 26, 2011
June 27 - July 4, 2011
July 5 - 10, 2011
July 11 - 17, 2011
July 18 - 24, 2011
July 25 - 31, 2011
August 1 - 7, 2011
August 8 - 14, 2011
August 15 - 21, 2011
August 22 - 28, 2011
August 29 - September 4, 2011
September 5 - 11, 2011
September 12 - 18, 2011
September 19 - 25, 2011
September 26 - October 2, 2011
October 3 - 9, 2011
October 10 - 16, 2011
October 17 - 23, 2011
October 24 - 30, 2011
October 31 - November 6, 2011
November 7 - 13, 2011
November 14 - 20, 2011
November 21 - 27, 2011
November 28 - December 4, 2011
December 5 - 11, 2011
December 12 - 18, 2011
December 19, 2011 - January 1, 2012
Media Matters searched the Nexis database for all guest appearances on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Sunday for the 10 declared and potential presidential candidates in question: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum.
For programs where a transcript was unavailable, Media Matters reviewed the raw video.
Changes to the reports
Media Matters added McCotter to the data beginning on June 20, 2011 and Roemer beginning on July 21, 2011. We stopped including McCotter on September 22, 2011; he dropped out of the race that day.
We stopped including Pawlenty and Trump in the data beginning on August 14, 2011; Pawlenty dropped out of the race on that date. And while Trump stated that he would no longer seek the Republican nomination but may instead run as an independent (on June 1, 2011, the beginning of this report), we decided to drop him from the data on this date.
We stopped including Bolton in the data beginning on September 6, 2011; Bolton decided not to run on this date.
We stopped including Palin in the data after her decision not to run was made on October 5, 2011.
We stopped including Giuliani in the data after he announced on October 11, 2011 that he would not run.
We stopped including Cain in the data when he suspended his campaign on December 3, 2011.
We stopped including Johnson in the data on December 28, 2011; Johnson announced he would seek the Libertarian Party's nomination.
We stopped including Bachmann in the data when she suspended her campaign on January 4, 2012.