Republican Presidential Candidates Weigh In On Trump And Coverage Of The Primary

Lindsey Graham On Fox's Trump Coverage: “They're Like A Moth Drawn To The Flame”

As Donald Trump continues to wage a public fight with Fox News, several of his GOP primary rivals spoke with Media Matters at this weekend's Values Voter Summit about his feud with the conservative network and media coverage of the Republican primary.

Trump and Fox have been in a back and forth fight for much of the past two months. Last week, Trump announced that he was planning to boycott Fox News “for the foreseeable future” because the network has supposedly been treating him “very unfairly.” Fox chief Roger Ailes and other “senior Fox editorial executives” are reportedly set to meet with Trump this week in an effort to smooth things over. 

“All you have to do is look at the airtime, look at the airtime,” former Fox News contributor Rick Santorum told Media Matters when asked about the Trump effect.

As Media Matters has documented, despite Trump's regular complaints about Fox's coverage of his campaign, he has dominated his Republican rivals in interview airtime on the network. From May through August, Trump garnered 10 hours and 21 minutes of interview airtime, more than three times as much as Santorum, who had just over 3 hours. 

Asked by Media Matters when he would return to Fox, Trump said, “We'll see, we'll see. They have to treat me fairly and I'm sure they will. I'm sure they will.”

Such a return is likely to keep the overwhelming media focus on Trump, prompting mixed reactions from his rivals.

“They're like a moth drawn to the flame,” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said about Fox's Trump coverage. “You can't help but cover it.” 

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal objected to candidates decrying media coverage, saying, “Any Republican or conservative that complains about the media, I think that's foolishness. There's nothing you can do about that, go out and talk directly to voters. ”

While he was critical of Trump, Jindal conceded that he is “great for ratings.”

“I've said over and over I think Trump is an egomaniac, he's not a conservative, he's not a liberal, he's not an independent,” Jindal said. “He only believes in himself, I think he's great entertainment, he's great for ratings.”

Former Fox News employee Dr. Ben Carson indicated he was happy with Fox News' primary coverage so far, telling Media Matters, “I've never had any problems with Fox News, I don't feel any problem, I am happy with what's going on.”

Carson has good reason to be happy. Earlier this month, New York magazine reporter and Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman reported that Ailes “has been impressed by Carson, a former Fox pundit, and is promoting his candidacy inside the network.” Sherman also quoted an anonymous Fox personality telling him, “Roger has told producers to push Carson and put him on whenever he wants to go on.”