While Fox News suspended former paid contributors Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum (now declared presidential candidates) back in March for taking steps toward bids for the Republican nomination before they officially announced, the network's relationship with Sarah Palin has continued.
During her August 8 interview with Sean Hannity in Ames, Iowa, the Fox News host opened his questioning with this:
HANNITY: I could save the best question for last, but we have a straw poll coming up tomorrow. And you are here at the fairgrounds. And I think a lot of people might want an answer to this one question. Are you considering a run for the presidency of the United States?
With all the fist-pumping that accompanied her answer, viewers could easily have confused her analysis with a stump speech:
PALIN: I am still considering a run, Sean.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
You know, I think the good folks here in Iowa -- you can do a man-on-the-street here, you can ask anybody here and I think that they would tell you: It's time that this country is put back on the right track, that the economy is strengthened, that jobs are created via the private sector. And they are ready for some positive change to allow that from Washington, D.C.
In January, Media Matters released a report detailing the staggering amount of free air time during 2010 that Fox gave to five potential candidates who also had regular roles as paid Fox News personalities (John Bolton, Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Palin, and Santorum). We estimated that advertisers would have paid the network approximately $55 million dollars for that time; Palin's 14 hours of airtime would have cost about $7.5 million.
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 hours and 38 minutes*; Total appearances: 32*
Most Total Airtime on Fox: Michele Bachmann (44 minutes)
Most Total Appearances: John Bolton (7 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Total Candidate Airtime: Hannity (59 minutes)*
Fox Show with the Most Candidate Appearances: Hannity (8 appearances)*
Longest Candidate Interview: Fox News Sunday (21 minutes with Michele Bachmann)
Softball Question(s) of the Week: Fox News host Mike Huckabee got the first interview with Iowa straw poll winner Michele Bachmann, and he took the opportunity to take cheap shots at President Barack Obama while praising Bachmann. From the August 13 airing of Huckabee:
HUCKABEE: You know, one of the things you clearly have with an advantage over Barack Obama, you just mentioned, thank the people as you're going -- for this great victory -- and then you're going to take the message to all 50 states, not the 57 that Barack Obama wanted to take his to.
BACHMANN: Mike, we all knew you're extremely intelligent, and now you've told the world.
HUCKABEE: Well, I don't know how smart I am because I didn't win the Iowa straw poll four years ago, and you did. But it is a big victory, and I want us to talk about where do you take it from here? And not so much the tactical -- the where does the campaign go. But I want to talk about the message. The Democrats are all just so worked up that you're going to be a formidable force. They're afraid of you. They call you the Tea Party Crazy. What does that do inside of you when you hear those kind of really ridiculous accusations? What does it make you think?
(A table of the August 1 - 7 data is available here.)
The Numbers Since June 1
Total time: 28 hours and 45 minutes*; Total appearances: 239*
Most Total Airtime on Fox since June 1: Herman Cain (3 hours and 32 minutes)
Most Total Appearances since June 1: John Bolton (44 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Total Candidate Airtime Since June 1: Hannity (4 hours and 53 minutes)*
Fox Show with the Most Candidate Appearances since June 1: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (34 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 16 declared and potential presidential candidates in question: Michele Bachmann, John Bolton, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Thad McCotter, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.
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 and Roemer beginning on July 21.
*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.