As Donald Trump racked up primary wins and the Republican presidential field winnowed from 12 candidates down to five, Trump continued to hold a commanding lead in interview airtime on Fox News during the month of February. Trump's 6-plus hours of interview airtime is the most airtime any candidate has received in any month since Media Matters started tracking appearances in May 2015.
February proved to be eventful for the Republican presidential primary: more than half of the remaining candidates in the race at the beginning of the month had dropped out by the end. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee left the field on February 1 after placing ninth in the Iowa caucuses, a contest he won in 2008; Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum dropped out on February 3; New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina ended their bids on February 10; former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore bowed out February 12 after amassing the support of only 12 caucus goers in Iowa; and finally former Florida Governor Jeb Bush ended his campaign February 20 after failing to finish better than fourth in any primary.
That leaves business mogul Donald Trump, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson (who is seemingly on his way out).
And like every single month since he officially declared his candidacy, Trump dominated Fox News' time devoted to airing interviews with candidates. In February, the network hosted Trump a record 6 hours and 16 minutes over 35 appearances. Rubio and Cruz both saw their airtime surge during the month as well. They were closely matched yet far behind the front-runner, with 4 hours and 38 minutes for Rubio and 4 hours and 23 minutes for Cruz.
Overall, Trump is far ahead of the other candidates in total airtime. With 34 hours and 57 minutes, he has more than twice as much time clocked in on Fox as Rubio, who is his next closest competitor with 17 hours and 14 minutes of airtime. Of those still in the race, Kasich lags far behind with just 10 hours and 12 minutes since May 1, 2015.
Two Fox shows stood out as giving the candidates much more airtime than others: The Kelly File and (to little surprise) Hannity. Host Megyn Kelly spent 6 hours and 36 minutes with the candidates; although, her time is padded with an episode-long town hall special, Face to Face with the Candidates, that originally aired on February 24 and was re-aired by the network on February 27 and 28. Hannity came in a close second with 6 hours and 24 minutes. The next closest show was Fox & Friends' weekday edition with 2 hours and 20 minutes for February.
Hannity is still Fox's number one show for the Republican primary, with 38 hours and 5 minutes spent interviewing candidates since we began data collection last May. Fox & Friends' weekday edition is a distant second with 18 hours and 19 minutes total.
Since May 1, 2015, Fox has devoted 170 hours and 35 minutes of network time to airing interviews with the Republican candidates.
Most Total Airtime In February: Donald Trump (6 hours and 16 minutes)
Most Total Appearances In February: Donald Trump (35 appearances)
Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime In February: The Kelly File (6 hours and 36 minutes)
Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances In February: The Kelly File and Hannity (32 appearances each)
Softball question of the month: This month's softball is the question that wasn't asked. On the February 29 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity opened with an extended interview with Republican front-runner Donald Trump and never once asked the candidate about his reluctance to disavow former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.
Most Total Airtime Since May 1, 2015: Donald Trump (34 hours and 57 minutes)
Most Total Appearances Since May 1, 2015: Donald Trump (188 appearances)
Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime Since May 1, 2015: Hannity (38 hours and 5 minutes)
Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances Since May 1, 2015: Hannity (235 appearances)
Previous Fox Primary Reports
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), and Jeb Bush (February 20). These candidates will not be included in future reports.
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 11 presidential candidates current for February: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.
This study includes all original appearances between May 1, 2015 and February 29, 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.