UPDATED REPORT: Fox News' $55 Million Presidential Donation

Last year, five potential Republican presidential candidates (Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, and Rick Santorum) who also serve as Fox News contributors or hosts appeared on the network for more than 85 hours. Media Matters for America estimates this time to be worth approximately $54.7 million in free advertising.

Fox Gave Potential Candidates $54.7 Million In Free Advertising

Fox News Candidates Appeared On The Network For More Than 85 Hours In 2010. Media Matters calculated the amount of on-screen time each of the five potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates appeared on Fox News as contributors or hosts in 2010. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appeared for a total of almost 48 hours. Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, appeared for close to 14 hours. Fox gave former House Speaker Newt Gingrich almost 12 hours. John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under George W. Bush, and Rick Santorum, former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, each received around six hours.

Potential Candidates' 2010 Fox News Appearances Were Worth Approximately $54.7 Million. Media Matters also estimated the cost advertisers would pay for the amount of time Fox gave to each of the potential GOP presidential candidates in 2010. Advertisers would have spent about $31 million for Huckabee's time for the entire year. Gingrich's and Palin's time each would have cost advertisers about $7.5 million each for the entire year. Santorum's estimated ad-value equivalency for the year comes to almost $5 million, while Bolton's is approximately $3.7 million.

Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee, Santorum, And Bolton Have All Hinted At 2012 Presidential Runs

Sarah Palin. A November 21 New York Times Magazine article reported that Palin is “weighing a run for president,” and quoted her saying: “I'm engaged in the internal deliberations candidly.” [New York Times Magazine, 11/21/10]

Newt Gingrich. The Des Moines Register reported on November 17 that Gingrich “said Tuesday he is making personal arrangements that would allow him to launch a campaign for president early next year, which his closest political adviser expects him to do.” [The Des Moines Register, 11/17/10]

Mike Huckabee. Huckabee appeared on Fox News Radio's The Alan Colmes Show on November 15 and talked about how his media presence would impact a potential 2012 run: “The one nice thing, whether I should decide to run or not, is that more people at least would know me by what I actually believe and say, as opposed to what some opponent has defined me to be, and that's kind of encouraging.” [Fox News Radio, The Alan Colmes Show, 11/15/10]

Rick Santorum. National Review Online reported on October 13 that Santorum spoke at a Republican event in Iowa and said in an interview: “The folks in Iowa are great. As the first-in-the-nation caucus state, politics are a part of their lives.” Santorum added: “If I were to get into this, I would certainly not be one of the favorites, so doing well out of the box would be much more important to me than to some of the more well-known candidates.” [National Review Online, 10/13/10]

John Bolton. On September 9, Bolton said on Fox Business Network that he is considering running for president: “I am thinking about it because I think legitimate issues of national security should be more at the center of the national debate than they have been for the last two years.” [Fox Business Network, Varney & Co., 9/9/10]

Methodology: Media Matters updated the results of our previous study counting appearances by each of the five candidates on Fox News shows available in the Nexis database. Media Matters also included Huckabee's weekly program, which does not appear in Nexis.

Media Matters counted pre-taped interviews as appearances but did not count brief statements by the potential candidates that aired as part of news packages.

Media Matters reviewed video for all appearances recorded in the Nexis search (as well as Huckabee's show) and tallied the total time for each. Using advertising data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group, Media Matters calculated the total amount spent on ads during each program in which one of the five potential candidates appeared. For each broadcast, we divided this dollar amount by an estimated amount of ad time per show* in order to calculate an estimated value of one minute of air time on that show. That result was then multiplied by the total time that Fox candidates appeared during that broadcast, yielding an estimated value for each appearance by a Fox candidate.

In other words:

Monetary value of appearance = (Total ad revenue from a given broadcast / average total ad time for that show) X length of candidate's appearance on given broadcast

In instances where the ad costs were not available for a specific broadcast, Media Matters instead used the median cost of ads on that show during the relevant month.

In instances where the video was not available for review and the length of an appearance could not be determined, Media Matters instead used the median appearance time for that specific potential candidate calculated from all appearances over the course of the study.

*Ad time per show was estimated by selecting three random airings of each relevant show and averaging the total amount of time devoted to ads.