If you're a conservative politician, you've no better place to spout off misleading talking points -- without fear of a journalist correcting you -- than Fox News.
Look no further than Michele Bachmann's statement during the August 1 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto: “We have got to focus on cutting spending.” She repeated this later that night on Hannity with additional detail: “People connect the fact when government is overspending to that amount that it impacts job creation.” How? She cited -- on both programs -- Cisco Systems' recent cut of 6,500 employees. But according to Reuters, fiscal austerity is actually hurting Cisco, which relies on government purchases for much of its business.
Neither Cavuto nor Hannity pressed the candidate to explain this inconsistency -- they each gave her a free pass.
So who's winning the Fox Primary? Each week at Media Matters, we watch the interviews, crunch the numbers, and tell you what Fox is up to in the presidential campaign.
Last Week's Results
Total time: 2 hours and 40 minutes*; Total appearances: 25*
Most Total Airtime on Fox: Donald Trump (32 minutes)
Most Total Appearances: Michele Bachmann, John Bolton, and Donald Trump (4 appearances each)
Fox Show with the Most Total Candidate Airtime: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (59 minutes)
Fox Show with the Most Candidate Appearances: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (6 appearances)
Longest Candidate Interview: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (17 minutes with Donald Trump)
Softball Question(s) of the Week: Hannity's August 1 interview with Michele Bachmann asked several questions that merely affirmed the candidate's own positions on the economy and the debt limit.
HANNITY: Now, I really hope and pray we're not becoming Greece, which is a comment you made that's been picked up a lot. What did you mean by that?
BACHMANN: Well, we're continuing to spend money that we don't have by an order of magnitude that we've never seen before. In all of my travels over South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Iowa, it's been fairly unanimous, Sean. People across the country have said, “Please stop the out-of-control spending, and whatever you do, don't increase the debt ceiling.” Because people see that under almost every scenario, President Obama gets this $2.1 trillion to spend, and we're getting $21 billion in cuts. And people are saying, “That's just not good enough.” And they want us to really change the ways of Washington. And they're not seeing that they're being listened to.
HANNITY: What, then, happened? And again, I'm less inclined to blame the House as much as I am -- I feel they had -- after cut, cap, and tax -- the legs cut out from underneath them because that was the day the Gang of Six made their announcement. I thought that was very damaging. Because the president ran out, with great fanfare and said, “Oh, we got another deal here, don't worry about that one that's being voted on in the House today. That's dead on arrival. I'm going to veto it anyway.” So, you know, what happened in the process? Because a lot of conservatives, like myself, think that, you know, $60 billion in two years doesn't justify $900 billion increase immediately.
BACHMANN: Well, that's what -- I think the American people agree with you. And that's what a lot of the polling data has said, and certainly anecdotally from what I've seen it, too. Because people connect the fact that when government is overspending to that amount that it impacts job creation. When I was in Indiana -- Semantic, they've lost 50 percent of all of their employees. Cisco is laying off 6,500 employees. Boeing, who would love to add thousands of jobs in South Carolina, announced that they're laying off 1,100 jobs in California.
HANNITY: All right. Let me ask you specifically here.
BACHMANN: These companies, Sean, they can't make cuts over 10 years. They have to make them immediately. Government doesn't act like that.
HANNITY: Yes. I guess what -- what I -- I guess what conservatives, Tea Party members -- and you're well known in the Tea Party movement -- want to know is this, because -- all right. If we're now at $16-whatever-in-a-half-trillion dollars as a result of this deal, $16.7 trillion in debt by the end of this deal, OK, so that gets us past the 2012 election. If we're going to add eight percent a year in new spending -- every year -- because of entitlements that have not been reformed, spending, etc., etc. And Paul Ryan's right. They did cut back. There's going to be a reduction in discretionary spending. But we're still going up seven-and-a-half, eight percent a year. That leads us somewhere around $25 trillion in debt. Now, if we get to that point, we're be going to be downgraded. That means interest rates go up. People have less money for consumer spending. That means that businesses are less likely to invest. That means that the unemployment spiral continues. Dependency increases. You know, when are we going to start arguing the real numbers here?
BACHMANN: Well, that's right. That's right. And that's my point, because all of this overspending does impact job creation. And unfortunately the lack thereof. And that's why people want government to do what they have to do, what local businesses have to do -- and that's be sure you don't spend more money than what you take in. That's why what people want to know is will someone do what has to be done? We need tough love. We didn't see a lot of tough love out of this deal. And people recognize something. They're already paying taxes to the tune of $2.2 trillion every year.
(A table of the August 1 - 7 data is available here.)
The Numbers Since June 1
Total time: 25 hours and 7 minutes*; Total appearances: 207*
Most Total Airtime on Fox since June 1: Herman Cain (3 hours and 7 minutes)
Most Total Appearances since June 1: John Bolton (37 appearances)
Fox Show with the Most Total Candidate Airtime Since June 1: Hannity (3 hours and 54 minutes)*
Fox Show with the Most Candidate Appearances since June 1: On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (30 appearances)*
Longest Candidate Interview since June 1: Stossel (40 minutes with Gary Johnson)
(A table of all the data since June 1 is available here.)
Previous Fox Primary Reports
Media Matters searched the Nexis database for appearances on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Sunday for the 16 declared and potential presidential candidates in question: Michele Bachmann, John Bolton, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Thad McCotter, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Donald Trump.
For programs where a transcript was unavailable, Media Matters reviewed the raw video.
Changes to the reports
Media Matters added McCotter to the data beginning on June 20 and Roemer beginning on July 21.
*Correction: We have dropped all DeMint data from the report. During Laura Ingraham's June 14 show, DeMint told the conservative talk radio host that he is “not considering” a run for president in 2012. Media Matters regrets the error.