Read our previous studies on cable news coverage of the 2022 midterm elections: Fox prime time goes all-in against John Fetterman; Fox prime time is covering key Senate races more than CNN and MSNBC — combined; and Fox hosts turn crime into a political cudgel against Democrats.
Fox News, the right-wing propaganda network that functions as a GOP Super PAC, has handed over its airwaves to Republican Senate candidates in the closing weeks of the midterm election campaign.
In the nine weeks after Labor Day, Fox weekday hosts and anchors interviewed Republican nominees in eight competitive U.S. Senate races more than twice as frequently as MSNBC and CNN hosted their Democratic opponents — combined. A single Fox host, Sean Hannity, aired more interviews with the Republican candidates over that period than CNN and MSNBC's prime-time blocks combined aired interviews with all candidates.
Fox is perhaps the single most powerful force in GOP politics. The network effectively merged with Donald Trump’s administration after he gained the presidency, and following the 2020 presidential election, its top executive openly described the network as the “opposition” to President Joe Biden. Fox’s stars used the network’s platform during the current election cycle to develop messaging for GOP candidates to run on, quash discussions of the party’s least popular issues, and help their preferred Republican candidates win the party’s nomination.
Fox hosts are doing their best to pull the party’s candidates over the finish line as the midterm elections approach, lavishing them with airtime they can use to shill for votes and donations.
Media Matters reviewed our database of weekday cable news guest appearances from September 6 through October 31 for interviews with the Republican and Democratic nominees for Senate in the eight states FiveThirtyEight identifies as most competitive: Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
The Republican nominees appeared on Fox’s weekday programming at least 79 times during that period, an average of more than 8 such interviews per week. By contrast, MSNBC interviewed the Democratic Senate nominees 36 times. CNN, meanwhile, interviewed just one candidate, Ohio Democratic nominee Rep. Tim Ryan, a single time. (Neither Fox nor MSNBC interviewed a candidate from the other party during the period of this study).
Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee in Pennsylvania, made the most appearances on Fox, with 21. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), had the second-most appearances, with 14, while Ohio’s J.D. Vance had the third-most, with 10. Nevada’s Adam Laxalt (9), Arizona’s Blake Masters (9), and Georgia’s Herschel Walker (8) followed.
Among the Senate candidates, North Carolina’s Cheri Beasley and Ohio’s Tim Ryan had the most MSNBC appearances, with 8 apiece.
Republican nominees have been particularly frequent guests on Fox’s popular prime-time shows, Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity, and The Ingraham Angle. The hosts of those programs are seasoned Republican propagandists who in some cases endorsed the candidates and helped them win their primaries. Republican politicians can expect that those interviews will feature pillow-soft questioning aimed at ensuring their victory.
The eight Republican candidates we reviewed totaled 48 appearances on Fox prime time over the period of the study.
Hannity hosted the most Republican candidate interviews, with 31. A notorious GOP shill, he produced a series of town hall events — essentially glorified campaign rallies — to prop up Republican nominees in the closing weeks of the election. Laura Ingraham hosted 10 interviews, while Tucker Carlson provided 7. Carlson’s team also produced a hagiographic documentary about Masters for Fox’s streaming service.
CNN and MSNBC prime time, which have been generally less engaged with the Senate races than Fox has, interviewed the Democratic nominees a combined total of 20 times over the period of the study.
And Fox isn’t propping up just the GOP’s Senate candidates; the party’s gubernatorial nominees have also been fixtures on the network. New York nominee Rep. Lee Zeldin made 21 weekday Fox appearances during this period, Michigan’s Tudor Dixon made 11, and Arizona’s Kari Lake made 10.