A black and white image of former VP Mike Pence speaking, with a CRT TV behind him. The boxy TV has a transparent American flag across the entire face, and is tilted to the left as if sinking behind his shoulders. All on a blue background

Molly Butler / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

By the numbers: Mike Pence’s campaign was dead on arrival in right-wing media

On OAN, Trump received more than 115 times as much candidate airtime as Pence

This is the first in a series of data-focused articles on how former President Donald Trump has maintained a massive lead in the Republican presidential primary with the unwavering backing of the right-wing media machine. 

On October 30, Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk wasted no words in responding to news of former Vice President Mike Pence suspending his 2024 presidential campaign. 

“That’s awesome,” Kirk said on his Salem radio show. “That’s a great sign.”

Noting Pence’s “big mistakes” as vice president, “especially in the lead up to the vote counting on January 6,” Kirk declared that “Mike Pence tried to take his campaign on an ideological detour away from the MAGA America First base, and voters wanted nothing to do with it.”

Kirk’s brief post-mortem of the Pence campaign underscores one major point: The former vice president’s career in Republican politics is essentially dead, reduced to being viewed as a traitor to his one-time boss, former President Donald Trump. And for Pence’s brief, floundering campaign which only began in early June, his perceived betrayal of Trump on January 6, 2021, guaranteed limited, low-energy coverage of his 2024 efforts from right-wing media. 

According to Media Matters' databases, the total airtime for Pence’s live events and interviews on Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News Network was significantly eclipsed by that of Trump on all three right-wing cable news networks from June 1 to October 28.

This difference was most pronounced on the staunchly pro-Trump OAN, which devoted over 40 hours to Trump interviews and live events during this time versus just 21 minutes for Pence — all from just one speech, during OAN’s broader live coverage of a Faith & Freedom Coalition summit that also featured other GOP speakers including Vivek Ramaswamy, one of Pence’s primary rivals.

Even on Fox News, which made half-hearted attempts to promote several non-Trump GOP candidates, Pence couldn’t catch a break, getting barely half of the interview and live event airtime that the network gave to Trump.

  • A bar graph of total candidate airtime on right-wing cable news, Trump vs Pence
  • Pence did manage to top Trump in total interview time on Newsmax — barely — but Trump dominated him otherwise especially on OAN, which did not even interview Pence on-air. 

  • A bar graph of candidate interview airtime on right-wing cable news, Trump vs. Pence
  • The trend is even more brutal in live event coverage, where Pence garnered a total of less than 3 hours across all three networks. Trump, again, enjoyed significantly more live event coverage than his former running mate.

  • A bar graph of candidate live event airtime on right-wing cable, Trump vs. Pence
  • Shortly after Pence dropped out on October 28, a new GOP primary poll showed Trump’s continuing lead in spite of attempts to blunt his momentum. As the former vice president said, this was not his time. But for a conservative movement that both built and fell to Trumpism, this outcome was entirely predictable. 

    Despite the final results, many court cases, and at least one record-setting settlement, right-wing media remain animated by the 2020 election and the consequences for Trump’s coup attempt, including the January 6 insurrection. Pence’s role that day — refusing to overturn the actual results, which he lacked the power to even do in the first place — meant that his attempts to lead conservatism away from Trump were essentially doomed from the start. 

    “He’s basically a relic,” Kirk said.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream and Kinetiq video databases for all original programming on Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and One America News Network for either of the terms “Trump” or “Pence” within close proximity of any of the terms “phone,” “guest,” “interview,” “in studio,” “with us,” “with me,” “bring in,” “to discuss,” “to talk,” “calling in,” “drop,” “take,” “rally,” “event,” “press conference,” “stage,” “introduce,” “heard,” or “thank” or any variation of any of the terms “speak,” “react,” “join,” or “town hall” from June 1, 2023, through October 28, 2023.

    We also searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on Fox News Channel (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight ET) for segments that analysts determined to include Donald Trump or Mike Pence as guests or live coverage of any campaign-related event for either Trump or Pence from June 1, 2023, through October 28, 2023.

    Finally, we searched transcripts in the Nexis database for all available programming on Fox News Channel for either of the terms “Trump” or “Pence” within the transcript’s “guest” field or that appeared at least five times in all caps within the body of the transcript from June 1, 2023, through October 28, 2023. We then reviewed the text to determine whether Trump or Pence appeared as a guest or the network aired live coverage of a campaign-related event.

    For OAN on August 25, 2023, we only reviewed transcripts until 2 p.m. ET. Video and transcripts for the remainder of the day were not available at the time of publication.

    We timed interviews and panels, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host interviewed Trump or Pence either alone or with other guests; live coverage, which we defined as instances when the program cut to a live campaign-related event of Trump or Pence; and paid programming, which we defined as instances when Trump or Pence paid a network for a set amount of programming time. We included coverage only after Trump or Pence officially announced their candidacy.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.