According to Media Matters’ ongoing quarterly analyses of prime-time weekday cable news coverage of the economy, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was by far the most frequently featured guest during economic news segments in the first half of 2016. Trump used an apparent standing invitation for interviews from Fox News to fill the airwaves with misleading claims about the supposedly poor state of the economy, while dubiously promising to boost economic growth and job creation through trickle-down tax cuts and restrictions on free trade.
In the first and second quarters of 2016, Trump has been a featured guest during a cable prime-time segment focused on economic news and policy 40 times. Trump’s presence on television dwarfed appearances by Sen. Ted Cruz (20) and Gov. John Kasich (10) -- his rivals for the GOP nomination -- as well as Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (9) and Hillary Clinton (4):
Trump’s cable news dominance is mostly a product of Fox News favoritism, where he has appeared 36 times in the past six months -- 18 times in each quarter. During that period, Fox News aired 175 segments dedicated to the economy, and Trump appeared as a guest in over 20 percent of them. All of Trump’s appearances came during interviews on The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity:
Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have come under heavy scrutiny for the lavish amount of airtime they give Trump. Hannity has served as the poster boy of Fox News’ embrace of the GOP nominee, leading to him being ridiculed as a Trump “fanboy” for his fawning over the candidate. O'Reilly’s softball interviews have also been seen as embarrassing for the network, leading to accusations that Fox News lacks journalistic integrity and is merely backing Trump to boost ratings. New York magazine correspondent Gabe Sherman reported on May 17 that, "According to one Fox News producer, the channel's ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs.”
With Trump being treated with kid-gloves by Hannity and O'Reilly, he was able to use his airtime to push his extreme and unworkable right-wing agenda. Trump’s claims have received criticism from across the political spectrum; conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman slammed Trump on June 29 for his simplistic look at global commerce, which he called “a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible,” and echoed criticism of Trump from economist and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Lawrence Mishel.
Fox’s coverage of Donald Trump has been so biased it received special attention from Jon Stewart during a guest hosting appearance on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stewart took aim at Hannity -- referring to him only as “Lumpy” -- for his blatant hypocrisy in supporting Trump. This obvious turn around led Stewart to lament that “I’m sure it’s easy for people without ethics or principles to embrace someone who embodies everything that they said they hated about the previous president for the past eight years”: