The Fox Primary For November: Trump Leads, Rubio Surges

Since Media Matters started tracking the data in May, real estate mogul and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has completely dominated the amount of time Fox News has spent hosting those vying for the Republican nomination. November was no different. With 3 hours and 18 minutes of interview airtime spread over 20 appearances during the month, Trump consumed nearly 20% of the total time the network devoted to the Republican candidates.

While Trump's lead holds, Senator Marco Rubio saw his time on Fox increase considerably in November compared to previous months. Since July, the Florida Republican has hovered between about 1 hour and 1 hour and 20 minutes of time on Fox; in November, that total jumped to 2 hours and 6 minutes. This coincides with an increase in his poll numbers and reports that Rubio is showing “signs of momentum” in picking up endorsements from the Republican establishment.

Aside from former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, the candidates with the least amount of time in November were former New York Governor George Pataki and former Pennsylvania Senator and former Fox News contributor Rick Santorum, who both clocked in with just 18 minutes. While this is nothing new for Pataki -- November marks his first appearance on Fox since August -- Santorum's slide into obscurity now seems cemented after dropping from a high in July of 1 hour and 42 minutes to hovering around 20 minutes over each of the last four months.

Only Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who announced the end of his campaign during a November 17 interview on Special Report with Bret Baierdid worse. Media Matters will not be including Jindal in subsequent Fox Primary reports.

Because of the holiday at the end of the month, some November airtime totals are inflated by repeat interviews that aired in primetime on On the Record with Greta Van SusterenThe O'Reilly Factor, and Hannity. Van Susteren focused on her “outsiders”: Trump, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. O'Reilly repeated parts of interviews from Trump, Carson, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie outlining their positions on ISIS. Hannity edited together two or three separate interviews for each of nine different candidates over an hour-long special that included Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Christie, Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Trump is lapping the field overall, with more than twice as much interview airtime since May as the second place candidate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:

Hannity once again led by a wide margin in time devoted to the Republican candidates. In November, Hannity featured nearly 4 hours of interview airtime. The next closest show, Fox & Friends, devoted 1 hour and 44 minutes to interviews.

Hannity continues to lead in overall interview airtime as well:

The Numbers

Most Total Airtime In November: Donald Trump (3 hours and 18 minutes)
Most Total Appearances In November: Donald Trump (20 appearances)
Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime In NovemberHannity (3 hours and 56 minutes)
Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances In NovemberHannity (32 appearances)

Softball Question Of The Month: In the wake of Donald Trump's dubious remarks about seeing “thousands and thousands” of people in New Jersey celebrating the September 11 attacks, Sean Hannity in a November 25 interview didn't ask a question so much as provide the Trump campaign with further misleading talking points:

HANNITY: Let me go to this whole controversy over the fact that you talked about people in New Jersey, that there were reports that, in fact, there were celebrations after 9/11. Now, if we go to The Washington Post - - and this was just seven days after 9/11 on the 18th -- The Washington Post says in Jersey City, within two hours of two jetliners plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation from the other side of the river.

By the way, the Associated Press...

TRUMP: Right.

HANNITY: ... at the same time also wrote about rumors of rooftop celebrations. The Washington Post -- I looked, I don't see one example where they made a correction in 15 years or 14 years. The Star-Ledger...

TRUMP: They did no correction, absolutely.

HANNITY: And The Star-Ledger also reported...


HANNITY: But the way this was reported is that you made this up whole cloth. You did not make it up whole cloth.

TRUMP: No, I didn't make it up. No, no. It happened. It was on. I saw it. It was all over the place. It was on the Internet. And by the way, Sean, I have received (INAUDIBLE) that Washington Post article, which was six or seven days later -- I have received hundreds of phone calls in my office from people saying they saw it. They were over there. People that live in New Jersey, they saw it. There was a celebration that they were so happy when the World Trade Center was coming down that they were celebrating.

And I've had hundreds of phone calls, and I've had many, many tweets on @RealDonaldTrump. But I've had many, many tweets and people saying that they saw it, that I was right.


TRUMP: And I am right. I mean, I'm 100 percent right. You had the - - you -- look, I'm only saying it because we have to be vigilant. I'm not saying it for any reason. I don't want to stir anything up. But you have some people living here, where we have some very, very serious problems. We have to be very careful. We have to be very vigilant.

Most Total Airtime Since May 1: Donald Trump (21 hours and 12 minutes)
Most Total Appearances Since May 1: Donald Trump (111 appearances)
Fox Show With The Most Total Candidate Airtime Since May 1Hannity (23 hours and 56 minutes)
Fox Show With The Most Candidate Appearances Since May 1Hannity (145 appearances)

Previous Fox Primary Reports

May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 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, Scott Walker's data extends until September 22, and Bobby Jindal's data extends to November 17, 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 14 presidential candidates in question: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.

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.