Between August 7 and December 8, Media Matters tracked all weekday guest appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Administration officials, Trump’s family, and Trump’s personal lawyer appeared on Fox News five times more often than on CNN and MSNBC combined.
In this study:
- Prominent Trump administration officials and advocates (the president, his cabinet and administration, his family, and his personal lawyer) appeared 135 times on weekday Fox News programming yet appeared only 19 and seven times on CNN and MSNBC, respectively.
- More than half of the guest appearances by those Trump officials and advocates on Fox were concentrated on Fox & Friends and Hannity. Trump-linked guests appeared on each of those two shows more than on both MSNBC and CNN combined.
- 91 percent of elected congressional and gubernatorial officials who appeared on Fox were Republican.
- MSNBC and CNN hosted congressional Democrats and Democratic governors over Republicans nearly 4-to-1 and 3-to-1, respectively.
Media Matters collected all weekday guest appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC from August 7 to December 8, 2017. In those four months, Media Matters catalogued all guests who appeared on the three major cable news networks -- CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- during the networks’ weekday schedules from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. We recorded persons who appeared in interviews or as a part of a panel in the study. We counted each such person once per show each weekday, which constituted a “guest appearance.” Persons in pre-recorded clips were not counted as guest appearances, but persons in pre-recorded interviews airing for the first time were counted. Guest appearances were counted on only their first airing; subsequent airings of prior interviews or panels were not counted. Network correspondents providing updates to ongoing stories or filing pre-recorded news packages were not counted as guest appearances.
Administration officials, Trump’s family, and Trump’s personal lawyer continued their preference for Fox News
Fox News hosted prominent Trump-linked guests 135 times. Between August 7 and December 8, Trump-linked guests appeared overwhelmingly on Fox as opposed to CNN or MSNBC. Out of 161 total appearances, 135 were on Fox while just 19 were on CNN and only seven were on MSNBC. 84 percent of all Trump-linked guest appearances were on Fox News.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was the most frequent Trump-linked guest. Conway appeared on weekday cable news 43 times between August 7 and December 8. The next most frequent guests were Mick Mulvaney, director of Office of Management and Budget and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, at a distant second with 14 appearances each. Thirty-nine of Conway's 43 appearances were on Fox.
Fox & Friends and Hannity hosted the most Trump-linked guests. In the time period studied, Fox & Friends hosted Trump-linked guests 49 times, and Hannity hosted them 27 times. Conway was the most frequent Trump-linked guest on Fox & Friends with 16 appearances while Sekulow was the most frequent Trump-linked guest on Hannity with 11 appearances. Both Hannity and Fox & Friends hosted more Trump-linked guests than all of CNN and MSNBC combined. During a December 21 appearance on Fox & Friends, Conway thanked the hosts for helping “get our message out here” and said she and the White House “appreciate the platform.” [Media Matters, 12/21/17]
Cable news: Lots of journalists and pundits talking to other journalists and pundits
The top 10 guests on each network were dominated by journalists and paid network contributors. CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger was the network’s most frequent guest (Chris Cillizza, former Washington Post reporter who was hired by the network in March, was the second most-popular guest). Robert Costa, Washington Post national political reporter and MSNBC political analyst, was MSNBC’s most frequent guest, and Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano was Fox’s top guest.
Top 10 CNN guests Appearances Borger, Gloria 179 Cillizza, Chris 171 Toobin, Jeffrey 138 Chalian, David 113 Kirby, John 113 Bash, Dana 109 Mudd, Philip 108 Preston, Mark 106 Henderson, Nia-Malika 81 Berg, Rebecca 80 Top 10 Fox News guests Appearances Napolitano, Andrew 95 Stirewalt, Chris 78 Hurt, Charles 66 Chaffetz, Jason 66 Bolton, John 55 Rove, Karl 55 York, Byron 53 Waltz, Michael 53 Gingrich, Newt 52 Tarlov, Jessica 52 Keane, Jack 52 Top 10 MSNBC guests Appearances Costa, Robert 80 Steele, Michael 79 Confessore, Nicholas 68 Przybyla, Heidi 67 Robinson, Eugene 67 Miller, Matthew 66 Dilanian, Ken 65 Rucker, Philip 64 Jordan, Elise 63 Alcindor, Yamiche 63
Congressional and gubernatorial guests were divided along partisan lines between networks
On Fox News, congressional Republicans and Republican governors dominated. For all congressional and gubernatorial guests on Fox, Republicans held a more than 9-to-1 appearance advantage over Democrats. On the flip side, such Democratic officials were hosted more often than their Republican counterparts on MSNBC and CNN -- 72 percent to 28 percent and 62 percent to 38 percent, respectively.
The top 10 Democrats appeared on cable news more often than their Republican counterparts. The top 10 congressional Democrats and Democratic governors together made 417 appearances across all three cable networks while such Republicans only appeared a total of 288 times. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) was the top elected Democratic guest with 65 appearances. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was the top elected Republican with 49 appearances.
Top 10 Democratic guests Profession Appearances Swalwell, Eric Representative, California 65 Blumenthal, Richard Senator, Connecticut 54 Schiff, Adam Representative, California 47 Coons, Chris Senator, Delaware 42 Rossello, Ricardo Governor, Puerto Rico 41 Speier, Jackie Representative, California 39 Cardin, Ben Senator, Maryland 33 Himes, Jim Representative, Connecticut 28 Murphy, Chris Representative, Connecticut 24 Markey, Ed Senator, Massachusetts 22 Lieu, Ted Representative, California 22 Top 10 Republican guests Profession Appearances Kinzinger, Adam Representative, Illinois 49 DeSantis, Ron Representative, Florida 35 Brady, Kevin Representative, Texas 29 Jordan, Jim Representative, Ohio 28 King, Peter T. Representative, New York 28 Duffy, Sean Representative, Wisconsin 27 Dent, Charlie Representative, Pennsylvania 24 Taylor, Scott Representative, Virginia 23 Reed, Tom Representative, New York 23 Thune, John Senator, South Dakota 22
The guests of Trump’s favorite Fox shows, Fox & Friends and Hannity
Gregg Jarrett and Andrew Napolitano led in total appearances on Trump’s favorite Fox shows. Jarrett, a Fox News legal analyst, appeared on Hannity 40 times over the course of the study. Napolitano was Fox & Friends top guest with 27 appearances between August 7 and December 8. The second most frequent guest on Hannity was Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to Trump and current Fox News national security strategist.
Top 10 Hannity guests Appearances Jarrett, Gregg 40 Gorka, Sebastian 28 Rivera, Geraldo 25 Carter, Sara 24 Elder, Larry 20 Gingrich, Newt 19 Solomon, John 15 Clarke, David 14 Schoen, Doug 14 Parks, Daryl 13 Top 10 Fox & Friends guests Appearances Napolitano, Andrew 27 Varney, Stuart 25 Rivera, Geraldo 18 Massi, Bob 18 Bongino, Dan 17 Conway, Kellyanne 16 Gingrich, Newt 13 Chaffetz, Jason 12 Ingraham, Laura 12 Porcher, Darrin 11 Cortes, Steve 11 Knutsson, Kurt 11 Shimkus, Carley 11
Media Matters’ research staff reviewed video of CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC from August 7 to December 8, 2017, between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. each weekday.
We recorded persons who appeared in interviews or as a part of a panel in the study. We counted each such person once per show episode each weekday, which constituted a “guest appearance.” Persons in pre-recorded clips were not counted as guest appearances, but persons in pre-recorded interviews airing for the first time were counted. Guest appearances were counted on only their first airing; subsequent airings of prior interviews or panels were not counted. Network correspondents providing updates to ongoing stories or filing pre-recorded news packages were not counted as guest appearances.
We recorded the following people as Trump-linked guests when they appeared for interviews or as a part of a panel: members of the Trump administration’s cabinet, as listed on the official White House website; Trump’s senior advisers and communications staffers (Kellyanne Conway, Sebastian Gorka (during his tenure), Hope Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Dan Scavino); members of Trump’s immediate family (including Trump himself); and Trump’s personal lawyer (Jay Sekulow).
We coded only currently serving members of the House and Senate and governors in our ideological analysis, and only coded such persons as Democrats or Republicans. Because Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ran on the Democratic ticket in 2016, we counted him as a Democrat for the purposes of this study. We also counted Sen. Angus King (I-ME) as a Democrat because of his prior affiliation with the Democratic Party and because he currently caucuses with the Democratic Party in the Senate. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello, though a member of the conservative New Progressive Party, was coded as a Democrat for his prior work as a Democratic delegate for then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008 and then-President Barack Obama in 2012, and he is supported as a Democratic governor by the independent voluntary political organization Democratic Governors Association.
Additional research by Media Matters' research department.