Study: Trump officials appeared on Fox News over 5 times more often than on CNN and MSNBC combined

Study: Trump officials appeared on Fox News over 5 times more often than on CNN and MSNBC combined

Four months of guests on cable news 

››› ››› ROB SAVILLO & LIS POWER

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.

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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.

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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]

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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.

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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

Methodology

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.

Network/Outlet
CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC
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