Rob Savillo

Author ››› Rob Savillo
  • STUDY: Prime-time cable news drowned out negative impacts of Senate health care bill in favor of covering process

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN, NICK FERNANDEZ, DINA RADTKE, NINA MAST & ROB SAVILLO

    When Republicans’ Senate health care bill looked like it was hurtling toward a vote two weeks ago, prime-time cable news largely neglected to cover several negative consequences of the bill and instead spent a disproportionate amount of time on the political process surrounding the legislation.

    Media Matters reviewed the two nights of cable news coverage -- from 5 to 11 p.m. -- between the release of the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) score of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2016 (BCRA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) announcement that the bill would be temporarily tabled until after congressional recess. We analyzed Nexis transcripts for individual statements -- defined as a single sentence -- about a wide range of reported negative impacts of the bill (including cuts to Medicaid funding, potential cuts to essential health benefits (EHBs), and a one-year freeze in federal funding for Planned Parenthood) and compared those to statements about the process surrounding the potential vote on the bill. We also reviewed coverage to see whether it included personal stories about people who would be impacted by the bill.

    During those two nights of coverage -- when media outlets were under the impression the bill was imminently coming up for a vote and potentially taking a major step toward becoming law -- process overwhelmed policy:

    • CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News made more than four times as many statements about process as they did about the negative impacts of the bill.

    • There were over 33 times more statements about process than personal stories of those who would be most affected by the law.

    • None of the three networks featured statements about potential cuts to mental health benefits, special education programs, or the negative impact of the proposed legislation on people with HIV.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    While the process surrounding the bill is a crucial part of the discussion (McConnell intentionally kept the drafting process secret and has been trying to rush the bill through the Senate), the extent to which process discussion eclipsed coverage of the impacts of the bill was staggering. On Fox News, the ratio between statements about process and statements about the negative impact of the bill was roughly 10-to-1, while on MSNBC and CNN, that ratio was nearly 5-to-1.

    Cable news made over 1,800 statements about process

    Over the two-day period, prime-time cable news made 1,835 statements about the process of passing the bill through the Senate. CNN made 792, Fox News made 274, and MSNBC made 769.

    There were no statements on any network about cuts to special education programs in public schools

    CNBC reported that out of approximately 11.2 million children in the U.S. who have special needs, “nearly 5 million rely on coverage from Medicaid and its Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.” The BCRA’s cuts to Medicaid, made by phasing out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion program, threaten the funding for this program. The Washington Post noted trepidation among school districts that say that in order “to fill the hole they anticipate would be left by the Republican push to restructure Medicaid, they would either have to cut those services or downsize general education programs that serve all students.” There were no statements made about these cuts on CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC.

    There were no statements on any network about cuts to mental health treatment

    Cuts to Medicaid and a rollback on essential health benefits (EHBs) means that people with mental illness would be receiving “less coverage for more money,” according to HuffPost. As the Center for American Progress (CAP) noted, “The CBO’s prediction matches the reality of the pre-ACA insurance market,” when “a significant number of people did not have coverage for … mental health services.” There were no statements about these cuts on CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC.

    MSNBC aired no statements about the one-year freeze on federal funds to Planned Parenthood

    The GOP Senate bill called for freezing federal funds to Planned Parenthood for one year, blocking access to family planning and related women’s health services that the clinics offer to millions of Americans. Defunding Planned Parenthood on a state level has had detrimental effects on public health. When Indiana shuttered five Planned Parenthood facilities -- at least one of which did not offer abortion services -- in 2015, the state experienced “an unprecedented HIV epidemic caused by intravenous drug use” due to a lack of access to preventative and testing measures. In Texas, after cuts to Planned Parenthood funding, fewer women “received contraceptive services, fewer use highly effective methods, some have had unintended pregnancies, and some have had abortions they would not have had if not for these policies." There were nine statements about this freeze on CNN and two on Fox News. There were no statements about it on MSNBC.

    There were no statements on any network about the detrimental impact on those with HIV

    Three members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned in the wake of the proposed Senate bill. One of the former members, Scott Schoettes, told BuzzFeed News that the bill will “kill people” and force more Americans into bankruptcy due to high medical emergency costs. The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) condemned the bill, calling it “catastrophic for our nation’s health care system,” specifically by causing people living with or at risk of HIV and STDs to suffer and by impeding efforts to end the HIV and STD epidemics. There was no statement made about this impact on CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC.

    Statements about increases in premiums for low-income people were scarce

    As CBS reported, the CBO found that “for low-income people ... ‘the premium for a silver plan would typically be a relatively high percent of income,’ while the deductible for a bronze plan ‘would be a significantly higher percentage of income. As a result, despite being eligible for premium tax credits, few low-income people would purchase any plan.’” Vox noted that this would result in “making poor people pay more for less health insurance.” Additionally, The Washington Post pointed out that “by adjusting subsidy numbers and implementing policies that are projected to increase premiums, low-income people by and large end up with higher health-care costs.” There were seven statements made about these increases on CNN, one on Fox News, and five on MSNBC.

    Fox News and MSNBC did not mention potential cuts to essential health benefits

    The Senate bill “allows states to use a waiver to opt out of covering the essential health benefits package” that was put in place by the ACA, The Washington Post reported. The ACA provision requires insurers to cover things such as ambulatory care, hospital visits, and maternity care. Vox explained that in order for a state to opt out of a certain essential health benefit requirement under the ACA, it “has to show that its alternative plan would allow it to cover as many people, with coverage as generous, without increasing federal spending.” But the Senate bill “removes the guardrails that ensured state-based alternatives would offer strong coverage.” Without these standards, many patients “are likely to drop their coverage,” which, as one health care expert noted, would not serve to reduce costs because cost burden would shift entirely to the individuals who need the coverage. CNN made two statements about these cuts, and Fox News and MSNBC made zero.

    CNN and Fox News each aired only one statement about the Senate bill’s impact on patients with pre-existing conditions

    As The Atlantic pointed out, decreasing the requirements that a state must meet to waive coverage for essential health benefits would create a “backdoor way” to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Los Angeles Times columnist Jon Healey wrote that, while the bill does not “directly” remove coverage for pre-existing conditions, it “would leave” those with pre-existing conditions “open to indirect attack by state officials eager to cut insurance premiums the easy way: by allowing insurers to cater to the customers they really want to serve, which are the ones who don’t need healthcare.” As CAP’s Topher Spiro summed up, under the Senate bill, “coverage would be eviscerated for millions of people with preexisting conditions.” There was one statement about these impacts on CNN and one on Fox News, and there were seven on MSNBC.

    Fox News didn’t mention cuts in funding for substance abuse treatment

    Time reported that if the Senate bill’s proposed changes to state essential health benefits waivers were implemented, “insurers may not continue to cover … out or inpatient substance use disorder services.” And while the BCRA “offer[s] $2 billion in funding to help combat the ongoing opioid epidemic,” lawmakers and activists for addressing substance use disorders have said that “much more money is needed”; one health economics professor told Mother Jones that the opioid epidemic funding allocation is merely “a joke.” Mother Jones also pointed out that slashes to Medicaid, which is “the largest payer for addiction services across the country,” would be “crippling,” particularly “for many of the communities that voted Trump into office.” CNN made 13 statements about these cuts, and MSNBC made nine. Fox made none. 

    Fox News made just two statements about the bill's major tax cut for the most wealthy

    PBS reported that under the Senate bill, the wealthiest Americans will receive an average annual tax cut of nearly $52,000, according to analysis by the Tax Policy Center. The bill would repeal the Obama-era tax on wealthy investors, as well as repeal a Medicare payroll tax on high-income families. There were 20 statements about these tax cuts on CNN, two on Fox News, and 22 on MSNBC.

    Cable news aired only a handful of statements about the bill's potential to reinstate lifetime caps on coverage

    NPR reported that the Senate bill “could even bring back lifetime caps on how much an insurer would pay for such services for a particular patient.” According to an estimate by CAP, “About 20 million people with employer-based coverage would face lifetime limits on coverage.” There was one statement about these caps made on CNN and there were five on MSNBC. There were no statements made on Fox News.

    Fox News made only four statements about cuts to Medicaid

    The CBO report projected that the Senate health care bill would cut $772 billion in federal money from Medicaid over a 10-year period. Between 14 and 15 million people would reportedly lose their health insurance under this drastic cut. According to CAP, under the Senate bill, “many states would face serious funding shortages for their Medicaid programs.” There were 58 statements about these cuts on CNN, four on Fox News, and 54 on MSNBC.

    Fox News made only 15 statements reporting that millions more would be uninsured under the Senate bill

    According to the CBO report, under the Senate bill, the number of people without health insurance would increase by 22 million over the next 10 years. There were 66 statements made about the increase in uninsured people on CNN, 15 on Fox News, and 67 on MSNBC.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched news transcripts in the Nexis database on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for the following programs: CNN’s The Situation Room, Erin Burnett Outfront, Anderson Cooper 360, and the 10 p.m. hour of CNN Tonight; Fox News’ The Fox News Specialists, Special Report with Bret Baier, The Story with Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson Tonight, The Five, and Hannity; and MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily, For the Record with Greta Van Susteren, All In with Chris Hayes, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. We searched for any of the following terms in the body of the text: health care, Better Care Reconciliation Act, BCRA, Senate health, GOP health, Republican health, Affordable Care Act, ACA, Obama care, or Obamacare.

    Segments were included in the study if the Better Care Reconciliation Act was the stated topic of discussion or if two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the BCRA with one another. If a speaker mentioned the BCRA in a multitopic segment and no other speaker in that segment engaged with the comment, then it was excluded from the analysis as a passing mention. All teasers of upcoming segments about the BCRA were also excluded from the analysis.

    For each segment we included in the study, two researchers independently coded the number of statements -- defined as a single sentence -- that included:

    1. Mentions of a personal narrative that contextualized how the BCRA would impact the subject of the narrative.

    1. Mentions of the process, e.g., how the bill would pass, how members of the Senate would or would not vote, how Senators would negotiate for votes, the optics of the bill, and anything that could influence a Senator’s vote for or against the BCRA.

    1. Mentions of the following negative impacts of the BCRA:

    • Mentions of cuts to Medicaid.

    • Mentions of the increase in premiums or out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans.

    • Mentions of the potential elimination of essential health benefits.

    • Mentions of the impact of persons with pre-existing conditions.

    • Mentions of potential cuts to mental health care.

    • Mentions of cuts to substance abuse treatment.

    • Mentions of how cuts to Medicaid would impact special education programs in schools.

    • Mentions of cuts to Planned Parenthood.

    • Mentions of the impact of the BCRA on persons with HIV.

    • Mentions that the BCRA would provide significate tax cuts to wealthy or high-income Americans.

    • Mentions that the BCRA would allow insurers to reinstate lifetime caps.

    • Mentions of the reduction of the total number of insured Americans.

  • STUDY: Sean Spicer’s first 48 press briefings

    More right-wing outlets, shorter briefings, and obsessive cable coverage

    Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During 48 press briefings as White House press secretary, Sean Spicer has elevated reporters from conservative outlets and drastically decreased both the number of follow-up questions granted and the amount of time devoted to answering journalists’ questions compared to Josh Earnest, his Obama administration predecessor. The three major cable news outlets have also exponentially increased the amount of time spent airing Spicer’s press conferences live compared to those at the end of the Obama administration, broadcasting nearly all of Spicer’s briefings in their entirety.

    In this study: 

    • The three main cable news networks have obsessively covered the Spicer briefings. CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC each aired at least 93 percent of Spicer's briefing time, compared to only 2 percent of Earnest's.

    • Spicer's briefings were significantly shorter than Earnest's -- 42% shorter. Spicer's briefings averaged 45 minutes compared to Earnest’s, which averaged 1 hour and 18 minutes.

    • Spicer's top five, most-called-on reporters were all from conservative-leaning outlets. Five of Spicer's 10 most-called-on news organizations were conservative-leaning.

    Politico reported in mid-May that in light of the “crises that are engulfing his administration,” President Donald Trump is considering upending his communications department, including potentially replacing Spicer at briefings with deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and/or largely scaling back on the number of live, on-camera briefings. (News broke May 30 that Communications Director Mike Dubke has resigned.) Trump has also suggested canceling the briefings entirely.

    Given reports about what might happen to Spicer’s role in the administration, Media Matters, which has tracked all of Spicer’s formal press briefings since inauguration, is looking back at Spicer’s first four months as press secretary.

      Which reporters and outlets were called on most often?

      Spicer set the tone for how the administration planned to deal with the press during his first briefing to reporters on January 21, where he claimed -- contrary to all available evidence -- that President Donald Trump’s inauguration had “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” (It did not.)

      Since then, the press secretary has had multiple clashes with reporters in the briefing room, notably with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, NBC’s Kristen Welker, and American Urban Radio Network’s April Ryan. After Spicer told Ryan to “stop shaking [her] head” on March 28, he has called on her only two other times, and he hasn’t given her a question since March 30. (Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert and deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders did call on Ryan during the May 11 briefing. And Ryan attempted to ask a question at the May 8 briefing, but Spicer ignored her.)

      While Spicer has repeatedly skirmished with critical journalists from mainstream outlets, he has also shifted the briefings to include many more conservative-leaning reporters. His top five go-to questioners were all from right-leaning outlets: Fox News’ John Roberts, Fox News Radio’s Jon Decker, Newsmax’s John Gizzi, Fox Business’ Blake Burman, and One America News Network’s Trey Yingst.

      In addition to the 48 Spicer briefings analyzed, Media Matters also collected data on a corresponding number of briefings by Obama White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, beginning with his last time in the press briefing room on January 17 of this year backward to August 22, 2016. (We assessed press briefings at the end of the Obama era as opposed to the beginning because it allowed for a comparison of more similar media environments.) Earnest’s most frequented reporters were more ideologically diverse and mainstream: Fox News’ Kevin Corke, CNN’s Michelle Kosinski, NBC’s Ron Allen, CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller, and Agence France-Presse’s Andrew Beatty.

      How did Spicer handle follow-up questions compared to his predecessor?

      Earnest allowed journalists to continue questioning through follow-ups until their line of inquiry was exhausted while Spicer often appeared ready to move on the moment he finished his answer. Earnest’s top five reporters averaged approximately 192 follow-up questions over the 48 briefings studied while Spicer’s top five averaged approximately 53 follow-up questions over the same number of briefings. In total, Earnest allowed 2,574 follow-up questions while Spicer allowed only 1,919 over the same number of briefings.


      Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

      Spicer used his position to elevate conservative outlets

      Spicer has also elevated conservative outlets that had a limited or nonexistent presence in the briefing room during the last portion of Earnest’s tenure. The biggest beneficiaries were One America News Network, Fox Business, Newsmax, The Daily Caller, Washington Examiner, and Fox News Radio. Between the Earnest and Spicer briefings analyzed, One America News Network and Fox Business jumped from zero questions each under Earnest to 32 questions each under Spicer. Newsmax went from 10 questions to 34, The Daily Caller from zero to 24, Washington Examiner from one to 24, and Fox News Radio from 12 to 34.

      In addition to One America News Network, Fox Business, and The Daily Caller, other conservative-leaning outlets have asked questions in the press briefing during Spicer’s tenure that were either not present or did not ask a question during Earnest's last 48 briefings. These include LifeZette, Christian Broadcasting Network, and Townhall, all of which Spicer has occasionally called upon for questions. Other conservative outlets have appeared, if only for a few questions, including CNS News, Independent Journal Review, Intermountain Christian Newspaper, Jobe Publishing, The Lars Larson Show, Salem Radio Network, and UNF News.

      Conservative-leaning outlets also make up half of the top 10 news organizations called upon most often in the briefing room. Fox News Channel, Fox News Radio, Newsmax, Fox Business, and One America News Network all made the top 10 organized by number of times Spicer called upon their reporters. (NBC News has multiple reporters from both NBC and MSNBC in the briefing room at any given time.)

      By contrast, Earnest’s top 10 most called-on news organizations in his last 48 press briefings were more mainstream and more diverse, including broadcast news, cable news, wire services, radio news, and members the foreign press. While Earnest's top 10 included several of the major wire services, Spicer's top 10 included none. 

      From Earnest to Spicer, The Associated Press dropped down to 11th in the rankings, CNN fell to 14th, Reuters fell to 12th, CBS Radio fell to 24th, and Agence France-Presse went all the way down to 47th.

      How frequently did Spicer hold briefings, and how much time did he devote to answering questions?

      Spicer’s days in the briefing room have dropped dramatically since early April -- and briefings, which were a largely regular occurrence during the beginning of the administration, have become sporadic at best.

      Since April 11 -- when Spicer caused a firestorm by claiming that Adolf Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons" -- Spicer has helmed only 12 briefings, which averaged approximately 36 minutes in length. By contrast, Spicer’s first 36 briefings, on and before April 11, averaged approximately 49 minutes in length. (Altogether, Spicer’s 48 briefings averaged approximately 45 minutes in length.) Earnest, on the other hand, averaged a briefing length of approximately 1 hour and 18 minutes for all 48 briefings analyzed. Overall, Earnest’s 48 briefings totaled 63 hours and 24 minutes while Spicer’s totaled just 36 hours and 36 minutes.


      Sarah Wasko / Media Matters


      Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

      After not airing Earnest press conferences, cable news networks aired almost all of Spicer’s press briefings in their entirety

      The three major cable news networks have been unable to resist airing Spicer's briefings live and -- aside from a few exceptions -- largely in their entirety. While some disparity in airtime should have been expected due to the fact that Spicer’s original press briefings likely featured more news than ones at the close of the Obama administration, the gap in airtime is still striking.

      All three cable networks aired some portion of all of Spicer’s 48 briefings live. CNN has aired 97 percent of Spicer’s briefing time thus far; Fox News, 96 percent; and MSNBC, 93 percent. (All three networks, MSNBC in particular, broke from briefings to cover the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia with then-FBI director James Comey on March 20, then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation hearing on March 21, the Westminster, London, terror attack on March 22, Gorsuch’s confirmation vote on April 3, and the San Bernardino, CA, school shooting on April 10).

      By contrast, over the same number of Earnest briefings, each network aired only about 2 percent of their total time. This even includes instances where a network played a clip from “moments ago” as the briefing was still underway.

      Over Earnest's more than 63 hours of press briefings, CNN spent 1 hour and 26 minutes, Fox News spent 1 hour and 4 minutes, and MSNBC spent just 1 hour and 16 minutes televising the briefings. But for Spicer's more than 36 hours of press briefings, CNN televised 35 hours and 33 minutes, Fox News televised 34 hours and 59 minutes, and MSNBC televised 34 hours and 9 minutes.


      Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

      Methodology

      Media Matters reviewed all 48 daily press briefing conducted by White House press secretary Sean Spicer between January 23 and May 15, 2017, and an equal number of daily press briefings conducted by former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest beginning on January 17, 2017 and going backward to August 22, 2016. Press gaggles were excluded from the analysis. If the deputy press secretary conducted the briefing, those were excluded. Ninety-six total briefings were included in the data.

      We tracked how often the press secretary called on journalists to ask questions, and we also kept track of the number of follow-up questions a journalist was able to ask. If a journalist interjected without a clear indication of being called on by the press secretary, that was counted as being called on if the press secretary heard and answered the question. If the question was ignored, it was not counted. When journalists asked multipart questions or multiple questions without interruption from the press secretary, those questions were counted individually. If a subsequent question rephrased or clarified the prior question for the press secretary, it was not counted as a separate question.

      We counted only those questions fielded by the press secretary. Questions posed to other members of the administration, other cabinet members, or guest speakers at the beginning of briefings were excluded from the analysis.

      For the length of each briefing, we went to the official White House YouTube pages and used the video lengths for press briefing videos uploaded by the White House. We then used video archive services iQ media and SnapStream to scan through CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC to time how much of a briefing was broadcast. Any portion of a briefing broadcast during the time that the briefing was actually taking place was included in the totals. The time lengths include when other members of the administration, other cabinet members, or guest speakers took questions from the press as well.

      Journalists were identified by watching the video in real time. In approximately 4 percent of all times a journalist was called on, we were unable to identify the journalist asking the question. These typically included members of the foreign press pool or members of news outlets who do not have a regular pass to the press room. These unidentified journalists were excluded from the analysis.

    • STUDY: Evening Cable News Devoted Nearly 250 Segments To Wikileaks Emails In The 5 Weeks Before The Election

      Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & ROB SAVILLO

      In the five weeks before the November 8 presidential election, evening cable and broadcast news, major newspapers, and the Sunday morning broadcast network political talk shows combined to flood the media landscape with coverage of hacked emails released by Wikileaks, according to an analysis by Media Matters.

      After its July release of emails that were stolen from the Democratic National Committee, Wikileaks released a daily stream of hacked emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta starting in early October.

      Between October 4 and November 8, weekday evening cable news aired a combined 247 segments either about the emails or featuring significant discussion of them; evening broadcast news and the Sunday morning broadcast network political talk shows aired a combined 25 segments; and five of the country’s most-circulated daily newspapers -- Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post -- published a combined 96 articles about the emails released by Wikileaks in their print editions.

      Following Donald Trump’s presidential victory, the U.S. intelligence community released a report with its assessment that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.” The assessment, which represents the view of the 16 federal intelligence agencies, concluded “with high confidence” that as part of this effort, “Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.”

      In response to mounting evidence that Russia sought to swing the election in Trump’s favor, in part through allegedly releasing hacked emails through channels like Wikileaks, Trump and his allies have in recent months downplayed the impact of the hacks. Trump, who has repeatedly sought to de-emphasize Russia’s alleged role in the election-related hacking to begin with, has also argued that the hacks had “absolutely no effect on the outcome” of the election. As ThinkProgress noted, “This was not the view of candidate Trump, who talked about Wikileaks and the content of the emails it released at least 164 times in last month of the campaign.”

      And Trump wasn’t alone.

      Media Matters’ review shows that news media treated the emails released by Wikileaks a major news story in the lead-up to the election. (It’s important to note that this is only a quantitative study; Media Matters did not attempt to assess the quality of articles and news segments about the hacked emails. A segment or article criticizing coverage of the emails or highlighting suspicions about Russia’s potential involvement was counted the same as a segment or article breathlessly promoting the contents of the hacked emails.)

      Data-driven news site Fivethirtyeight.com determined that the hacked emails released by Wikileaks were “almost exclusively an October story. Over 72 percent of people who searched for Wikileaks from June onward did so during October or the first week of November. Interest really got going with [Wikileaks Editor-in-Chief] Julian Assange’s press conference on Oct. 4.” We reviewed transcripts and articles beginning on October 4, when Assange first announced during a press conference that Wikileaks would release additional information pertaining to the election, through November 8, Election Day.

      Evening cable news -- defined as shows airing weekdays from 5 p.m. through 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC -- devoted massive coverage to the Wikileaks story, with Fox leading the way. In total, Fox News aired 173 segments over the course of the period studied. Fox also aired teasers 64 times to keep audiences hooked throughout broadcasts. The hacked emails were also mentioned in passing by a guest, correspondent, or host 137 times during additional segments about other topics.

      Fox’s coverage was a near-daily obsession for its evening news hosts. Four of the six programs in the study ran at least one segment every weekday or nearly every weekday between October 7 and November 7. Special Report with Bret Baier ran segments every weekday between October 7 and November 4; On the Record with Brit Hume ran segments every weekday between October 7 and November 7; The Kelly File ran segments on all but four weekdays between October 7 and November 7 (and on those four days, Wikileaks was still mentioned in passing at least once); and Hannity ran segments nearly every weekday between October 7 and November 7 (excluding October 10 and 20, the latter of which featured at least one mention of the story).

      CNN aired the second most Wikileaks coverage, with 57 segments teased to audiences 21 times and an additional 75 mentions during segments about other topics. MSNBC aired only 17 segments teased six times and tallied 23 mentions during additional segments. (MSNBC’s 6 p.m. hour, which at the time aired With All Due Respect, was not available in Nexis and was therefore excluded from this analysis).

      On broadcast network news, the numbers are smaller, but over the course of the period studied, the networks each aired a significant number of segments on their evening news programs and Sunday morning political talk shows. ABC programs World News Tonight and This Week with George Stephanopoulos devoted the most coverage to the Wikileaks emails, with 10 segments and five mentions during additional segments combined. CBS’ Evening News and Face the Nation with John Dickerson followed, with nine segments and three mentions during additional segments combined. NBC’s Nightly News and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd aired just six segments and 12 mentions during additional segments combined.

      The five major newspapers we studied each published numerous articles in their print editions (we did not include online coverage) about the Wikileaks emails in the month before the election, but three stood out from the rest. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal each published 27 articles about the emails and mentioned them in 26 and 10 other articles, respectively. The Washington Post was the third paper in this group with 26 articles about the Wikileaks emails published and mentions in 14 additional articles.

      USA Today published 11 articles about the Wikileaks emails and mentioned them in three other articles while Los Angeles Times ran just five stories and mentioned the Wikileaks emails in only seven other articles.

      As was the case with Trump, conservative media figures who hyped and encouraged reporting on hacked emails quickly adjusted their views on the significance of the hacked emails during the presidential transition period. After touting the release of the stolen emails, credulously reporting on numerous illegally obtained emails published by Wikileaks, encouraging Trump to “just read” the stolen emails at campaign rallies, advising Trump to “study[] Wikileaks,” and repeatedly providing a platform for Assange to promote the publication of the stolen emails, right-wing media figures downplayed the influence the disclosure of the emails had on the 2016 campaign. Taking the lead from Trump's transition team, some right-wing media figures then argued that “no one can articulate or specify in any way that” the publication of the private emails “affected the outcome of our election.”

      Although right-wing media figures have claimed that there is “no indication that” the publication of the private emails “affected the election,” the breathless reporting on the contents of the Wikileaks disclosures by media outlets played into the hands of the Russian government’s “influence efforts to … amplif[y] stories on scandals about Secretary Clinton and the role of Wikileaks in the election campaign,” according to the intelligence community’s report. Days after the first trove of private emails was published by Wikileaks, a group of former top national security officials and outside experts warned “the press … to be cautious in the use of allegedly ‘leaked’ information,” which “follows a well-known Russian playbook.”

      The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum summarized the strategy in an interview with Slate months before the first disclosure of Podesta’s personal emails:

      I didn’t think about the United States because I thought the United States is too big, American politics isn’t moved by these smaller amounts of money the way that Czech politics are or Polish politics are. But I hadn’t thought through the idea that of course through hacking, which is something they’re famously very good at, that they could try and disrupt a campaign. And of course the pattern of this is something we’ve seen before: There’s a big leak, it’s right on an important political moment, it affects the way people think about the campaign, and of course instead of focusing on who did the leak and who’s interest it’s in, everyone focuses on the details, what’s in the emails, what did so-and-so write to so-and-so on Dec. 27, and that’s all that gets reported.

      The press could have seen this coming. On the August 24, 2016, edition of The Kelly File, then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly interviewed Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, who used the platform to hype the “material” Wikileaks planned to publish, and announced it would be released in “several batches.” Kelly asked Assange if he thought the information in his “possession could be a game changer in the US election.” Assange said the effectiveness of the release “depends on how it catches fire in the public and in the media.”

      Methodology

      Media Matters reviewed the Nexis database for news transcripts and articles that mentioned Julian Assange or Wikileaks approximately within the same paragraph as variations on any of the following terms: Hillary Clinton, Democratic National Committee, DNC, or John Podesta. We included cable news networks’ weekday evening programming (5:00 p.m. through 11:00 p.m.) on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC; the evening news shows (ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’ Evening News, and NBC’s Nightly News) and Sunday morning political talk shows (ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation with John Dickerson, and NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd) on ABC, CBS, and NBC; and five of the most-circulated daily print newspapers: Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. (MSNBC’s 6:00 p.m. hour, which hosted With All Due Respect was not available in Nexis and was therefore excluded from the analysis).

      Data-driven news analysis website Fivethrityeight.com determined the hacked emails released by Wikileaks “was almost exclusively an October story. Over 72 percent of people who searched for Wikileaks from June onward did so during October or the first week of November. Interest really got going with Julian Assange’s press conference on Oct. 4.” Therefore, we reviewed articles beginning on October 4, 2016, when Assange first announced during a press conference that Wikileaks would release additional information pertaining to the election, through November 8, 2016, Election Day.

      For television, we coded as “segments” news segments where the hacked emails released by Wikileaks were the stated topic of discussion, and we also coded as “segments” when signification discussion about the hacked emails from Wikileaks occurred during segments with a different initially stated topic or during multi-topic segments. We defined significant discussion as at least two or more speakers discussing the hacked emails to one another during the course of the segment. We determined the start of a segment to be when the show’s host introduced either the topic or guests and determined the end of a segment to be when the show’s host concluded discussion or bid farewell to the show’s guests.

      We coded as “mentions” comments made by a speaker about the hacked emails without any other speaker in the segment engaging. We coded as “teasers” introductions by the host of upcoming segments on the hacked emails where the segment in question did not immediately follow.

      For print, we coded as “articles” news stories and opinion pieces where the hacked emails were mentioned in the headline or the lead of the story or article. If the hacked emails were used as a piece of evidence within a larger story or used to provide context, those were coded as “mentions within an article.”

    • News Networks Sidelined Trump's Conflicts Of Interest Until His Election

      Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO

      The broadcast networks’ flagship evening news programs failed to inform their viewers about the inherent conflicts of interest a potential Donald Trump presidency would bring in the months leading up to Election Day, and have not given the subject the urgency it deserves in the wake of his election, according to a Media Matters review.

      Between September 14 and Election Day, the networks only aired approximately seven minutes of stories about or at least mentioning a conflict of interest. In the week after the election, they aired approximately 14 minutes -- but only half of that explicitly called the issues “conflicts.”

      Trump has said throughout his campaign and following his election that he intends for his children to run his business empire while he is president. But on September 14, Newsweek reported that if Trump and his family don’t cut ties to the family’s business conglomerate, Trump would “be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States” due to the Trump Organization’s relationships and financial entanglements with foreign interests.” Responding to that story, Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, told Media Matters that the only way to avoid serious conflicts of interest would be for Trump and his family to sell all of their holdings in the Trump Organization. Painter also stressed that the issue was a “serious problem” that warrants increased media attention.

      Painter sounded some of the earliest alarms about Trump’s conflicts. Speaking with Mother Jones in June, he explained that the idea of a sitting president holding any debt owed to an entity that the government regulates should disturb the public: “[H]aving a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it's on negotiable terms -- it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators.”

      The flood of potential and actual conflicts of interest have been made manifest following Trump’s election. A Washington Post investigation recently revealed a sprawling, globe-trotting Trump empire, showing that the president-elect’s real estate, management, and branding companies have business interests in at least 18 countries or territories. The Post also reported over the weekend that foreign diplomats had flocked to an event at the Trump International Hotel, located just a few blocks from the White House, seeking “to curry favor or access with the next president.”

      The New York Times reported that developers of Trump Towers Pune, located in Pune, India, flew to New York last week to meet with the Trumps during the president-elect’s initial stages of his transition to the White House. Pranav R. Bhakta, a consultant who helped Trump establish a foothold in the Indian market five years ago, told the Times, “To say, ‘I have a Trump flat or residence’ -- it’s president-elect branded. It’s that recall value. If they didn’t know Trump before, they definitely know him now.”

      These recent events should have come as no surprise, yet the network news hardly mentioned the conflicts of interest inherent in Trump’s global business ties before or after the election.

      Media Matters looked at ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir, CBS’ Evening News with Scott Pelley, and NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt for reports on Trump’s conflicts of interest -- including the Trump Organization’s ties to foreign governments or businesses, Trump promoting his own businesses through the presidency, plans for Trump’s children taking over the Trump Organization through a “blind” trust or attempting to access security clearances, and Trump’s children using their access to the president-elect to promote their own businesses -- starting from Newsweek’s September 14 article.

      From then until Election Day, the networks spent approximately seven minutes on stories about or at least mentioning a conflict of interest. NBC aired a three-minute segment, and ABC aired a three-and-a-half-minute segment. Both were about Trump using his campaign to promote his own businesses; however, neither explicitly pointed to potential upcoming conflicts of interest should Trump win the election. NBC briefly mentioned the Newsweek report in a segment about corruption in the Trump Foundation, and the night before the election, the network again briefly mentioned the conflict of interest of Trump’s business ties for about eight seconds.

      In the week after the election, the networks have devoted more coverage to these conflicts of interest, but it hasn’t been enough. From November 9 to 16, the networks spent approximately 14 minutes on stories about or at least mentioning a conflict of interest, but only half of those explicitly called them conflicts. They spent a total of about seven minutes on Trump’s foreign business ties, six minutes on Trump’s children helping with the president-elect’s transition or vying for security clearances, and two minutes on Ivanka Trump using a photo of herself in Trump’s recent 60 Minutes interview to sell a bracelet that retails for over $10,000.

      Methodology

      Media Matters searched news transcripts from the Nexis database for mentions of any variations of “conflict,” “corrupt,” “organization,” “trust,” “business,” “interest,” “cabinet,” “transition,” or “divest” within the same paragraph as “Trump” for ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir, CBS’ Evening News with Scott Pelley, and NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt from September 14 through November 16. We reviewed video to determine length of coverage.

    • STUDY: Top Newspapers Give Clinton Email Story More Coverage Than All Other Trump Stories

      ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO

      Five top national newspapers have obsessed over FBI Director James Comey’s letter revealing newly discovered emails potentially related to the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. In the week since Comey’s letter was released, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post have published 100 stories -- 46 of which were on the front page -- about or mentioning the emails.

    • STUDY: Compared To MSNBC And CNN, Fox News Devotes More Time To Trump Events And Less Time To Clinton Events

      Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO & BEN DIMIERO

      Since June 1, Fox News has devoted significantly more time than cable news competitors CNN and MSNBC to airing live coverage of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, live events, and press conferences. Fox has also aired less live coverage of similar events from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton compared to its rivals.

      In September alone, Fox News aired 7 hours and 32 minutes of live coverage from Trump events, compared to CNN, which aired 5 hours and 18 minutes of Trump events, and MSNBC, which aired 5 hours and 48 minutes of Trump events. Conversely, Fox aired only 3 hours and 25 minutes of Clinton events during the month -- far less than CNN (5 hours and 4 minutes) and MSNBC (5 hours and 14 minutes).

      Combined, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC together aired coverage of Trump’s events 71 times in September, totaling 18 hours and 39 minutes, and coverage of Clinton’s events 54 times, totaling 13 hours and 44 minutes. (Since most events were covered on all three networks simultaneously, each event could have been broadcast up to three times.)

      Trump holds a large lead in overall airtime since Media Matters started tracking coverage of live events in June. Across the three cable networks, Trump’s events have been given 65 hours and 3 minutes of coverage, compared to 49 hours and 47 minutes of coverage for Clinton events. However, the gap in airtime is due in large part to the sheer number of Trump rallies and events during the period studied. The networks together aired some live coverage from Trump events 186 times during the period studied while airing coverage of Clinton events only 137 times. Clinton’s events were covered on average for 21 minutes and 48 seconds, compared to 20 minutes and 59 seconds for Trump.

      Since June 1, Fox News has devoted far less airtime to Clinton events than its cable rivals have -- 13 hours and 52 minutes for Fox, compared to 18 hours and 18 minutes for CNN and 17 hours 36 minutes for MSNBC. The conservative network also holds a wide lead in Trump event airtime during the same period: 25 hours and 25 minutes, compared to 21 hours and 27 minutes on CNN and 18 hours and 11 minutes on MSNBC.

      Trump’s wide advantage in event airtime is apparently part of a strategy by the candidate. He has cut back on interviews with non-Fox outlets -- seemingly in hopes that the networks will simply carry his events, where he mostly has an unchallenged platform to pitch himself to voters. (He has not held a press conference since July).

      As Media Matters and others have documented, Trump has largely abandoned televised interviews with outlets other than the friendly Fox News. In July, Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz noted Trump’s shift in interview strategy and wrote that some of the candidate’s advisers thought “it doesn’t matter if Trump bypasses interviews on CNN and MSNBC as long as those networks, along with Fox, keep carrying extended portions of his evening rallies, with the added benefit that he doesn’t have to answer questions.”

      In an interview this week, top Trump adviser Roger Stone pointed to the cable news networks' penchant for airing Trump rallies as one of the ways they "aided" his rise, saying Trump "understood that his rallies, as long as he was drawing large crowds, would get coverage like a news event. Got wall-to-wall coverage on the cable networks."

      Methodology

      From June 1 to September 30, we tracked all live coverage of rallies, events, or press conferences featuring Trump or Clinton on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC between 6 a.m. and midnight. Timing for events began the moment newscasters stopped talking and switched audio over to the event and ended the moment audio switched back to the newsroom and newscasters began speaking again. All breaks in live coverage of events were timed separately and removed from totals. We excluded live coverage of the party conventions because the study defines the amount of coverage devoted to campaign events, and the conventions are considered unique events outside the media's normal day-to-day campaign coverage.

    • STUDY: Trump's "Retreat" To Fox News, By The Numbers

      Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO & ROB SAVILLO

      As the first presidential debate approaches, Republican nominee Donald Trump has almost entirely avoided potentially critical and challenging interviews on the broadcast networks and the major cable news channels in favor of being lobbed softballs by his friends at Fox News.

      CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter noted this week that Trump has recently been “retreat[ing]” to “friendly media ground.” Stelter explained, “Trump is saying ‘yes’ to Fox News almost every day but saying ‘no’ to most other major networks and news organizations -- a highly unusual strategy for a presidential nominee,” adding, “If nothing else, it limits the candidate's exposure to hard-hitting questions.”

      Indeed, according to a Media Matters analysis, since NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on September 7, Trump has given seven interviews to Fox News, totaling more than 1 hour and 40 minutes of airtime. During the same time frame, he has not appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC. (Trump has appeared on the friendly CNBC show Squawk Box and on Trump supporter Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business program during this time period, but appearances on CNBC and rival Fox Business Network are not included in this analysis.)

      Trump was last interviewed by CNN on August 25, in a discussion with Anderson Cooper that ran under 15 minutes. Following that interview, Trump has given 13 interviews to Fox News totaling over 4 hours and 16 minutes of airtime. (Trump's Fox News interview airtime totals include his multiple townhalls with Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity.) Other than his appearance at the NBC forum -- which was moderated by Matt Lauer, who has since been harshly criticized for going easy on Trump -- and a 6 and a half minute interview with ABC’s David Muir on September 6, Trump has not given any interviews to the broadcast networks or Fox News’ cable rivals CNN and MSNBC following his appearance with Cooper. 

      Trump’s total interview time on Fox News would be even greater if a planned town hall scheduled to air on Hannity this week had not been postponed. A previous Media Matters study found that the roughly 22 hours of airtime Hannity devoted to airing interviews with Trump between when Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015 and August 23, 2016, was worth more than $31 million in free publicity.

      Trump’s attempt to avoid being subjected to rigorous fact-checking extends to his (and his campaign’s) attempts to work the refs in advance of the debates. While numerous media figures have highlighted the need for moderators to fact-check the candidates, Trump and his allies have argued the opposite. Trump has lashed out about the debates being “rigged” and incorrectly claimed all of the moderators are Democrats.

      Trump has also not given a press conference in nearly two months.

      Methodology

      From August 25 through September 22, Media Matters tracked every interview of Donald Trump on the three cable networks from 6 a.m. through midnight and tracked interviews on ABC's Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir, 20/20, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos; CBS' CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation with John Dickerson; and NBC's Today, Nightly News with Lester Holt, Dateline, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. We included all original interviews only. Interviews were timed from the moment the guest was introduced to the moment the guest left the show. Trump’s recent interviews with the syndicated Dr. Oz Show and The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon were not included in this study.

    • STUDY: Fox News Airs More Trump Interviews Than All Other Networks Combined

      Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO & BEN DIMIERO

      In July, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continued to heavily favor Fox News for interviews. The conservative network aired more than two hours of interviews with Trump during the month, more than all other outlets we studied combined.

      Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz noted in early July that Trump and his advisers had changed the candidate’s strategy towards media appearances, largely turning down requests to appear on outlets other than Fox News. That strategy seems to largely remain in effect, at least in terms of Fox’s main cable competitors: CNN and MSNBC did not air any interviews with Trump in July, while he appeared on Fox 10 times during the month.

      During an interview with The Washington Post, Trump acknowledged his refusal to appear on CNN, telling reporter Philip Rucker, “I don’t do interviews with CNN anymore because it’s not worth it. It’s very biased against me.” (Despite Trump’s objections about CNN's coverage, the network employs several pro-Trump pundits, including his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.)

      Overall, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News aired a combined 3 hours and 14 minutes of interviews with Trump during the month, compared to 2 hours and 4 minutes for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.


      Since the beginning of June 2016, news programs on the broadcast networks and the three major cable news channels have aired 8 hours and 15 minutes of interviews with Trump, compared to 4 hours and 20 minutes of interviews with Clinton. The majority of Trump’s airtime has come from Fox News; the only qualifying Trump interview on MSNBC to air since the start of this study in June was a three-and-a-half-minute preview of a June 23 Lester Holt interview with the candidate.

      Methodology

      From July 1 through July 31, Media Matters tracked every interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the three cable networks from 6 a.m. through midnight, and we tracked interviews on ABC's Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir, 20/20, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos; CBS' CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation with John Dickerson; and NBC's Today, Nightly News with Lester Holt, Dateline, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. We included all original interviews. We included repeats of interviews if aired in their entirety or if a significant, uninterrupted portion was aired on a different show. Previews of upcoming interviews were included if a significant, uninterrupted portion was aired. A significant, uninterrupted portion needed to be at least 3 minutes in length to be included in this study. Clips shorter than 3 minutes of past or upcoming interviews were not included. Interviews were timed from the moment the guest was introduced to the moment the guest left the show.

    • STUDY: As The General Election Looms, Trump Retreats To Fox News

      Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO & BEN DIMIERO

      In June, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump far outpaced presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in interview airtime on cable and broadcast news programs. Trump also held a wide lead in the number of mentions on the three major cable news networks.

      Trump essentially clinched the Republican nomination in May, and Clinton followed by locking up the Democratic nomination in early June. As the race moves into the general election, Media Matters tracked the total mentions of each party's presumptive nominee on the three major cable news networks. We also tracked and timed each candidate’s interviews on all cable news programming and on broadcast news' morning, evening, and Sunday morning shows.

      According to Fox News media reporter Howard Kurtz, Trump’s campaign has shifted its strategy in terms of media appearances by the candidate, largely scaling back on interviews with outlets outside of Fox News. The interview data from June shows this strategy taking form.

      Outpacing Clinton’s 2 hours and 16 minutes of interviews, Trump appeared for just over 5 hours of interview airtime during June (in March, for example, the networks aired nearly 14 hours of interviews with Trump). His Fox-focused strategy was also clearly evident during the month -- Trump’s interviews appeared on Fox News for a whopping 3 hours and 20 minutes. Trump’s Fox News interview total was by far the most by either candidate on any network.

      By contrast, the only qualifying Trump interview to air on MSNBC during the month was an approximately 3-and-a-half-minute preview clip of Lester Holt’s June 23 NBC interview that covered Trump’s criticisms of Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi terror attack, Clinton’s personal email server, and whether Trump would accept money from Wall Street, among other topics.

      Removing Fox News from the equation, Clinton had more interview airtime overall. On ABC, CNN, and MSNBC, Clinton led in interview time by approximately 12, 6, and 42 minutes, respectively. Trump led Clinton on CBS and NBC by approximately 24 and 7 minutes, respectively.

      Networks have been widely criticized for conducting interviews with Trump over the phone throughout the campaign. During June, he was interviewed by phone far more than Clinton: nine interviews totaling 1 hour and 17 minutes of airtime for Trump, compared to three interviews for 24 minutes for Clinton.

      Showing the extent to which news about Trump has dominated the media this election cycle, Trump led in total number of mentions by a significant margin on all three cable news networks. Overall, Trump held 65 percent of all mentions on cable while Clinton had 35 percent. The gap was largest on MSNBC and CNN, where Trump led by nearly 7,000 mentions each. On Fox News, Trump held an advantage of almost 3,000 mentions.

      Methodology

      Media Matters searched iQ Media's database of raw video for mentions of the words "Trump" or "Clinton" on all original programming on the three cable news networks -- CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC -- from June 1 through June 30, 2016, between 6 a.m. and midnight each day. We tallied each individual utterance in order to measure the amount of relative discussion of each candidate. While we recognize that this broad definition would includes family members in the counts -- for instance, a mention of "Clinton" may be of former president Bill Clinton rather than Hillary Clinton -- we feel that mentions of family members more often than not occur in discussions about the candidates themselves, and these mentions likely represented a small portion of the overall data.

      From June 1 through June 30, we also tracked every interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the three cable networks from 6 a.m. through midnight, and we tracked interviews on ABC's Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos; CBS' CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, and Face the Nation with John Dickerson; and NBC's Today, Nightly News with Lester Holt, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. We included all original interviews. We included repeats of interviews if aired in their entirety or if a significant, uninterrupted portion was aired on a different show. Previews of upcoming interviews were included if a significant, uninterrupted portion was aired. A significant, uninterrupted portion needed to be at least 3 minutes in length to be included in this study. Clips shorter than 3 minutes of past or upcoming interviews were not included. Interviews were timed from the moment the guest was introduced to the moment the guest left the show.

      Charts by Sarah Wasko. Additional research by Media Matters research staff.

    • STUDY: Trump Won The Fox Primary, Doubling Any Other Candidate In Interview Airtime

      Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO

      Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump dominated his former rivals for the nomination in interview airtime on Fox News. From May 1, 2015, through Trump’s decisive victory in the Indiana primary on May 3, 2016, the businessman garnered more than 49 hours of interview airtime on the network, more than twice as much as second place finisher Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

      Hours before the Indiana results came in and he suspended his campaign, Sen. Cruz lashed out at 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch and Fox News chief Roger Ailes for purportedly turning Fox News “into the Donald Trump network, 24/7.” He added, “Rupert Murdoch is used to picking world leaders in Australia and the United Kingdom, running tabloids, and we're seeing it here at home.”

      The network has also faced criticism in recent days over its Trump coverage from prominent conservative commentators like radio host Mark Levin, who labeled the network a “Donald Trump super PAC.”

      While Trump publicly feuded with Fox News intermittently throughout the primary campaign, he maintained a sizable advantage in interview airtime on the network. He led all candidates in interview airtime in every month since he formally announced his candidacy in June 2015.

      Overall, Fox devoted 202 hours and 2 minutes to 1,481 original and reaired interviews of the Republican candidates over the last year.

      In addition to more than doubling Cruz’s airtime total, Trump had more than three times as much interview airtime on the network as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was the last challenger to drop out of the race on May 4, 2016:  

      In what ended up being the final month-and-change of the nomination fight, Trump again lapped the field in interview airtime on Fox News. From April 1 through May 3, Fox News aired 7 hours and 49 minutes of interviews with Trump, compared to 3 hours and 54 minutes for Cruz and 2 hours and 21 minutes for Kasich.

      Trump’s airtime generally trended upward over the course of the campaign, as more of his rivals dropped from the race (click to enlarge):

      (Note: The final month in the above chart includes interview time from all of April and the first three days of May, 2016.)

      Sean Hannity -- who has recently been criticized for favoring Trump over Cruz and Kasich -- featured by far the most interview airtime with candidates since the beginning of the study, with almost 50 hours. (Including interviews reaired by the network, Trump’s received far more interview airtime on Hannity than Cruz or any other candidate -- full data is below.)

      Breakdowns for candidate time appearances by month and by Fox News program are below. (Click to enlarge.)

      (Note: Red times represent the candidate who had the most total time on the corresponding show.)

      Previous Fox Primary Reports

      May 2015
      June 2015
      July 2015
      August 2015
      September 2015
      October 2015
      November 2015
      2015 Overview
      January 2016
      February 2016
      March 2016

      Methodology

      For this study, we used FoxNews.com's "2016 Presidential Candidate Watch List." Jim Gilmore's inclusion in the study began after his formal announcement on July 30. The following candidates' data collection stopped when they each ended their respective campaigns: Rick Perry (September 11), Scott Walker (September 22), Bobby Jindal (November 17), Lindsey Graham (December 21), George Pataki (December 29), Mike Huckabee (February 1), Rand Paul (February 3), Rick Santorum (February 3), Chris Christie (February 10), Carly Fiorina (February 10), Jim Gilmore (February 12), Jeb Bush (February 20), Ben Carson (March 4), and Marco Rubio (March 15).

      Media Matters searched the Nexis database and our internal video archive for all guest appearances on Fox News Channel between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. and Fox News Sunday for the three presidential candidates current for April through May 3: Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Donald Trump.

      This study includes all original appearances between May 1, 2015, and May 3, 2016. Repeat appearances were counted if they aired on a new day. Appearances during early morning post-debate specials were counted.

      Charts by Oliver Willis. Additional research by Media Matters' research staff.