REPORT: Fox News' candidates “speak through Fox News” a whopping 269 times

Five potential Republican presidential candidates that serve as Fox News contributors or hosts have made at least 269 appearances on the cable channel - compared to a total of six appearances on all other major news channels combined.

“In-kind contribution”: Potential 2012 GOP candidates “speak through Fox News”

Palin: "[S]peak to the American people. Speak through Fox News." Fox News contributor Sarah Palin appeared on the September 15 edition of The O'Reilly Factor and advised Christine O'Donnell, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Delaware, to “speak to the American people. Speak through Fox News and let the Independents who are tuning in to you, let them know what it is that she stands for, the principles behind her positions.” [The O'Reilly Factor, 9/15/10]

Fox News candidates “speak through Fox News” at least 269 times in 2010. Media Matters for America searched the Nexis database through September 18 for network and cable television appearances in 2010 by five potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates who currently have relationships with Fox News. The five potential candidates -- John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum -- have appeared 269 times on Fox News and a total of six times on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS combined:


Each Fox News candidate has appeared at least 36 times this year. Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas and 2008 GOP presidential candidate who hosts his own Fox News show, appeared on Fox News 96 times through September 18. Fox News contributor Rick Santorum, a one-time Republican Senator from Pennsylvania appeared 52 times, and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich has appeared 48 times on Fox News so far this year. Sarah Palin, the party's vice presidential nominee in 2008, appeared 37 times, while Bush's U.N. ambassador John Bolton appeared 36 times:


Only Gingrich has appeared on other major news outlets - and just six times. Gingrich is the only one of the Fox News candidates to have appeared on any other major news channel in 2010 - having shown up on CNN once, on ABC News twice and on NBC News three times:


GOP strategist reportedly calls Fox News appearances an “in-kind contribution.” A September 27 Politico article highlighted the conflict Fox News faces in its contractual relationship with so many possible GOP contenders:

While they won't talk about it on the record -- no one wants to offend a news outlet with a potentially outsize role in determining the next GOP nominee -- officials with some of the other campaigns in waiting are plainly annoyed at the advantage they see the four potential GOP candidates have with Fox.


Jim Dyke, a veteran GOP strategist who isn't affiliated with any 2012 candidate, predicted that the issue would gain steam after the midterms, when the so-called invisible primary begins in earnest.

“As it becomes clear somebody is looking at running, Fox gets into a bit of a box because doesn't it become an in-kind contribution if they're being paid?” Dyke asked.

FoxPAC has an extensively documented history helping GOP candidates

Fox News has well documented history of raising money for and promoting GOP candidates. Media Matters for America has extensively documented Fox News' role in opposing Democratic policies, promoting and fundraising for GOP candidates, raising millions of dollars for Republican candidates and causes in the 2010 election cycle and donating $1 million to elect Republican gubernatorial candidates.

*Media Matters' search was limited to transcripts available in the Nexis database, so it covers all CNN shows; most evening shows on FNC and MSNBC; and morning shows, evening news, and Sunday shows on the broadcast networks. Since Huckabee hosts his own weekly Fox News show that does not have transcripts in Nexis, Media Matters added 37 appearances to Huckabee's Fox News total to account for his weekly program.

Media Matters counted pre-taped interviews as appearances, but not brief statements by the potential candidates that aired as part of news packages.