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Study: Trump officials overwhelmingly flock to Fox News

Trump and his administration officials, family members, and lawyer are sticking to right-wing media

Since the beginning of August, President Donald Trump, prominent figures in his administration, members of his family, and his personal lawyer have appeared on weekday programming on Fox News far more often than on corresponding shows on CNN or MSNBC.

  • In this study:

    • Trump-linked guests made 78 appearances on weekday Fox News programming, compared to eight on CNN and only six on MSNBC.
    • 60 percent of appearances by those guests on Fox were concentrated on two programs: Fox & Friends and Hannity.
    • Trump-linked guests made more appearances (19) on Hannity than on all programming on CNN and MSNBC combined.

    Administration officials, Trump’s family, and Trump’s personal lawyer appeared overwhelmingly on Fox, while spurning CNN and MSNBC

    Media Matters tracked appearances on weekday cable news by 42 prominent Trump administration advocates between August 3 and October 2. Prominent members of Trump’s administration, his personal lawyer, and his family appeared on Fox News 78 times, with the majority going on Trump propaganda shows Hannity and Fox & Friends. In comparison, that same group of Trump advocates appeared on CNN and MSNBC only eight and six times, respectively.

    The skew in appearances is in large part due to an inordinate number of appearances by Kellyanne Conway, Sebastian Gorka, Mick Mulvaney, and Jay Sekulow on Fox. Conway, who serves as counselor to the president, appeared on Fox News 17 times, compared to two appearances on CNN and zero appearances on MSNBC. Similarly, Gorka, who served as a deputy assistant to Trump until August 25, appeared on Fox News five times between August 3 and August 25, with no appearances on CNN and only one appearance on MSNBC (Gorka has additionally appeared on Fox six times since his resignation). Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, likewise made five appearances on Fox News but only a single appearance on CNN and MSNBC each. Lastly, Sekulow, who is Trump’s personal lawyer, appeared on Fox 12 times and CNN and MSNBC zero times.

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Appearances on Fox skewed heavily to Fox & Friends and Hannity

    Out of the 78 appearances on Fox News, 60 percent were on either Fox & Friends or Hannity. There were 28 guest appearances on Fox & Friends in the two-month period by a wide range of Trump administration advocates and officials. The president himself appeared on Fox & Friends, as did Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Conway, Gorka, Sekulow, and nine different cabinet officials. On Hannity, there were a total of 19 appearances on Sean Hannity’s hour-long prime-time show by this group of people, with the most frequent guests being Sekulow (nine times), Conway (four times), and Gorka (two times). Additionally, Hannity hosted Sanders once, Trump’s son Eric twice, and Eric’s wife Lara once.

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Administration advocates have often favored right-wing and far-right outlets

    While Trump cabinet officials and advisers have mostly stayed away from CNN and MSNBC, they’ve made time for appearances on a variety of far-right and right-wing outlets and radio stations. Following Hurricane Harvey, Pence interviewed with Rush Limbaugh (who has a history of pushing hurricane conspiracy theories) and Michael Berry (a radio host notorious for mocking black victims of gun violence in Chicago) among other conservative radio hosts. Additionally, Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt appeared on Breitbart radio following Hurricane Harvey to deny the link between hurricanes and climate change. During the interview, host Alex Marlow pushed Pruitt to attack news coverage, and Pruitt responded by lashing out at “opportunistic media” and their “misplaced” coverage about climate change. This pattern of prominent Trump administration officials feeling more comfortable appearing on friendly right-wing outlets is also made apparent by Trump, whose only appearance on cable networks in the past two months was an interview with Fox & Friends. Yet, he will be appearing October 7 on Mike Huckabee’s new show, Huckabee, which is broadcast on Trinity Broadcasting Network.


    Media Matters’ research staff reviewed video of CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC in real time from August 3 to October 2, 2017, between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. each weekday. We recorded the following people as 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, Hope Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Dan Scavino); members of Trump’s immediate family (including Trump himself); and Trump’s personal lawyer (Jay Sekulow). Pre-recorded clips of these individuals were not counted as guest appearances, but 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.