The Fox Primary For March: Trump Widens His Airtime Lead

As the Republican presidential field shrunk to three candidates in March, front-runner Donald Trump again led his competitors in interview airtime on Fox News. Fox News hosted the businessman for 6 hours and 15 minutes, compared to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's 5 hours and 18 minutes and Ohio Gov. John Kasich's 3 hours and 44 minutes.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson both ended their campaigns in March -- their airtime totals from before they dropped out are listed, but they will not be included in future editions.

Trump's lead in Fox interview time comes amid ongoing tension between him and the conservative network. Mid-month, Trump declined to participate in a Fox News-hosted debate, leading Kasich to drop out as well. Fox canceled the event in response.

Overall, Trump's numbers on Fox News since Media Matters began tracking interview time last May have remained well above those of all the other Republican candidates. Since May, he has logged 41 hours and 12 minutes on the network, more than double Cruz's 19 hours and 26 minutes and nearly triple Kasich's 13 hours and 57 minutes.

Hannity was again the Fox show that devoted the most time to the Republican candidates, with 5 hours and 38 minutes total in March. The Kelly File followed in a distant second with 2 hours and 49 minutes, and Fox & Friends' weekday edition was third with 2 hours and 16 minutes.

Since last May, Hannity has amassed 43 hours and 44 minutes of interview time for all of the Republican candidates past and present in this election cycle. The Kelly File and Fox & Friends' weekday edition followed far behind with just over 20 hours each.

The Numbers

Most Total Airtime In March: Donald Trump (6 hours and 15 minutes)

Most Total Appearances In March: Donald Trump (28 appearances)

Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime In MarchHannity (5 hours and 38 minutes)

Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances In MarchHannity (17 appearances)

Softball Question Of The Month: On the March 29 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity questioned Trump about an altercation between his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and conservative journalist Michelle Fields -- for which Lewandowski had just been charged with simple battery -- by first telling viewers that he didn't agree with Fields' description of the incident:

HANNITY: All right, let me ask one other question that made a lot of news today. And in full disclosure, I'm friendly with both parties here. I know your campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, very well. I know Michelle Fields. She's been a guest on this program a lot over the years.

And I got to be honest, I looked at this tape at least 100 times today to try and see -- and I have her original statement here that she was, quote, “jolted backwards and somebody grabbed me tightly by the arm, yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground.”

Now, I'm showing the tape. I don't see that. I've -- I've looked at it 100 times. 

Most Total Airtime Since May 1, 2015: Donald Trump (41 hours and 12 minutes)

Most Total Appearances Since May 1, 2015: Donald Trump (216 appearances)

Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime Since May 1, 2015Hannity (43 hours and 44 minutes)

Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances Since May 1, 2015Hannity (252 appearances)

Previous Fox Primary Reports

May 2015

June 2015

July 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

2015 Overview

January 2016

February 2016


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. 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), Jeb Bush (February 20), Ben Carson (March 4), and Marco Rubio (March 15). 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 five presidential candidates current for March: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump.

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