The Fox Primary For January: New Year, Same Trump Airtime Dominance

Even as Donald Trump waged another public battle with Fox News in January, he continued to maintain a huge lead over other Republican presidential candidates in interview airtime on the network.

The January feud between Trump and Fox News culminated in the real estate mogul refusing to participate in the network's Republican primary debate days before the Iowa caucuses. Despite the tension, Trump was interviewed on Fox News for almost 4 hours during the month, nearly 90 minutes more than Sen. Marco Rubio, who finished in second place with 2 hours and 31 minutes of airtime. Sen. Ted Cruz finished third with 2 hours and 30 minutes. Trump, who holds a massive lead in overall interview airtime since May 2015 (28 hours and 40 minutes, 16 hours more than any other candidate), was unable to translate the publicity advantage into a win in Iowa, finishing behind Cruz and slightly ahead of Rubio in the state's caucuses.

All three saw a bump in their January Fox Primary numbers from December. Second and third place finishers Trump and Rubio, respectively, were on Fox approximately another 30 minutes each, while Iowa winner Cruz was on Fox about 48 minutes more in January than in December.

Behind them in January airtime were Governor Chris Christie with 1 hour and 52 minutes and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 1 hour and 43 minutes. Former Senator Rick Santorum continued to barely register on Fox News -- where he formerly worked as a contributor -- clocking only 22 minutes. 

Overall, Trump continues to lap the field in airtime since the beginning of our study:

Overall, Fox spent 19 hours and 28 minutes on the Republican candidates over 171 interviews in January, an increase over previous months where the network spent between 16 and 17 hours a month. Hannity once again featured the most interview airtime with candidates:

Since May 1, 2015, Fox has broadcast 1,171 interviews with the candidates that make up 144 hours and 51 minutes of airtime. Hannity has basically served as candidate central, with more than 31 hours of interview airtime for candidates:

The Numbers

Most Total Airtime In January: Donald Trump (3 hours and 59 minutes)

Most Total Appearances In January: Donald Trump (20 appearances)

Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime In JanuaryHannity (4 hours and 15 minutes)

Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances In JanuaryHannity (29 appearances)

Softball Question Of The Month: During the January 26 episode of Hannity, host Sean Hannity asked Rubio an important question about camera phone operation:

HANNITY: Have you figured out the selfie -- how to and switch it around and make it work?

RUBIO: Yes, we've made that work. Most people want to take their picture, but every now and then, they'll do it themselves, too, so that's good.

Most Total Airtime Since May 1: Donald Trump (28 hours and 40 minutes)

Most Total Appearances Since May 1: Donald Trump (153 appearances)

Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime Since May 1Hannity (31 hours and 40 minutes)

Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances Since May 1Hannity (203 appearances)

Previous Fox Primary Reports

May 2015

June 2015

July 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

2015 Overview


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, Scott Walker's data extends until September 22, Bobby Jindal's data extends to November 17, Lindsey Graham's data extends to December 21, and George Pataki's data extends to December 29, which is when each candidate respectively ended their campaigns. Appearances from these former candidates after those dates were not included in this study. Mike Huckabee ended his campaign on February 1 after the Iowa caucuses and will not appear in future reports. Rand Paul ended his campaign on February 3 after the Iowa caucuses and will not appear 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 12 current presidential candidates: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.

This study includes all original appearances between May 1, 2015 and January 31, 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.