The Fox News Primary For September: Even With “Boycott,” Trump Still Leads In Interview Airtime

Despite a nearly week-long boycott, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump still outpaced his GOP rivals in Fox News interview airtime in September.  

Trump beat out every other candidate with 2 hours and 42 minutes -- almost a full 30 minutes more than the next closest contender (New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who clocked in with 2 hours and 16 minutes), and more than an hour more than the third place finisher (former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who managed 1 hour and 32 minutes of interview airtime for the month). Trump's airtime total was once again inflated thanks to the network re-airing his interviews in primetime -- a Hannity Trump campaign special that originally aired in August was broadcast again on Sunday, September 6. 

Christie's interview airtime has surged forward, going from 1 hour and 15 minutes in August to nearly double that in September. Possibly due to his proximity to New York City, Christie appears in-studio for interviews more often than any other candidate. In September, 80 percent of his 15 appearances were conducted were in studio. The next closest candidate was former Pennsylvanian Senator Rick Santorum with only 50 percent of his six interviews being in-studio.

Christie tied for the most total appearances (15) with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who was hosted several times on the network to discuss the controversy over Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis.

Santorum, a former Fox News employee, continues to lag behind several other candidates in interview airtime in recent months. After appearing for 1 hour and 42 minutes in July, Santorum appeared for just 19 minutes in August and only 24 minutes in September. In comments to Media Matters reporter Joe Strupp at last month's Values Voter conference about the amount of coverage Trump has received from the media, Santorum said, “All you have to do is look at the airtime, look at the airtime.”

Overall, Hannity again far outpaced Fox's other shows for total candidate time. Sean Hannity's show devoted 3 hours and 32 minutes to the candidates in September, which brings it to a total of 16 hours and 43 minutes since May. The second place show, Fox and Friends has devoted less than half that time -- 7 hours and 57 minutes.

The Numbers

Most Total Airtime In September: Donald Trump (2 hours and 42 minutes)

Most Total Appearances In September: Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee (15 appearances each)

Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime In SeptemberHannity (3 hours and 32 minutes)

Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances In SeptemberHannity (25 appearances)

Softball Question of the Month: The day after the September 16 CNN Republican presidential debate, Hannity set up a question about critics who “doubt” Florida Governor Jeb Bush's “conservative credentials” by listing off a series of the Republican's supposed conservative accomplishments:

HANNITY: Governor, I've looked at your Florida record. I've discussed a lot of these issues with you. You governed as a very solid conservative. You created a lot of jobs. You cut taxes -- don't remember the exact number -- you probably do -- a number of times.

BUSH: $19 billion!


HANNITY: What's that?

BUSH: Yes. Every year.

HANNITY: All right...

BUSH: $19 billion every year I cut taxes.

HANNITY: ... you went up to AAA bond rating, which is an enormous success. You even were the first governor to institute state -- state vouchers, a school voucher system.

And whenever your name comes up on social media, it always immediately races to immigration and Common Core. I think you know that that's true, right? What is your answer to those people that doubt your conservative credentials because of these two issues?

Most Total Airtime Since May 1: Donald Trump (13 hours and 3 minutes)

Most Total Appearances Since May 1: Donald Trump (67 appearances)

Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime Since May 1Hannity (16 hours and 43 minutes)

Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances Since May 1Hannity (89 appearances)

Previous Fox Primary Reports

May 2015

June 2015

July 2015

August 2015


For this study, we used's “2016 Presidential Candidate Watch List.” Jim Gilmore's inclusion in the study began after his formal announcement on July 30. Rick Perry's data extends until September 11, and Scott Walker's data extends until September 22, which is when each candidate respectively ended their campaigns. Any future appearances from these former candidates will not be included in this study.

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 17 presidential candidates in question: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

Beginning with the August report, Media Matters has collected appearances on weekend shows in addition to weekday shows and Fox News Sunday. All weekend data from May 1 onward is now included.

For programs where a transcript was unavailable, we reviewed the raw video.

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