Media Structures & Regulations

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  • "I'm Not A Journalist": Sean Hannity Attacks Critics For Calling Out His Softball Interviews With Trump

    Hannity Claims He Gives Softball Interviews To All Republicans Because He Agrees With Them

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Fox's Sean Hannity responded to criticism of his coverage of GOP front-runner Donald Trump by publishing data showing that he has dedicated more than over four hours of interviews to Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and more than 30 interviews to each on his Fox News show. Hannity also explained that his softball interviews were based on his agreement with the Republican vision, not a bias in favor of any one candidate.

    In an April 11 piece, ThinkProgress pointed out that Trump has appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show “an astonishing 41 times since he announced his campaign, giving him a nearly yearlong platform to target GOP voters. Conservative website RedState claimed ThinkProgress' report showed that Hannity “has become, for all intents and purposes, part of Trump’s campaign apparatus.”

    Hannity’s executive producer, Lynda McLaughlin published an April 14 blog on his website responding to both pieces by highlighting the amount of total airtime he has given the all the Republican candidates:

    To put this plainly, there is no conspiracy here to give one candidate more time over another. The candidates have an open invitation to come on the show, and it is their choice to take that offer or ignore it. Here is the breakdown of candidate times on the radio show since they announced through March of this year (limited to the last top 4 candidates):

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz: 188:39
    Florida Senator Marco Rubio: 141:00
    Businessman and Entrepreneur Donald Trump: 112:28
    Governor of Ohio John Kasich: 87:52

    Time on 'Hannity' TV Show since each candidate announced:

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz: 34 appearances
    Businessman and Entrepreneur Donald Trump: 32 appearances
    Governor John Kasich of Ohio: 20 appearances

    In an accompanying video, Hannity defended his softball interviews with Donald Trump and other candidates, claiming that ThinkProgress and RedState cherry-picked his interviews. Later Hannity admitted that he would interview Hillary Clinton “a hundred times harder than any Republican, because I believe the Republicans represent, and have a far better vision, one that I agree with, I just have less disagreement with them,” concluding "I'm not a journalist, I'm a talk show host" (emphasis added):

    SEAN HANNITY: Here's a website, ThinkProgress, remember they did the structural imbalance of talk radio so many years ago? And then they did this hit piece, "Hannity Interviewed Donald Trump 41 Times, And Never Made News," or something to that effect, which is just not true. And they picked some of the easier questions that I asked Donald Trump, which they could have done with any other candidate that I have interviewed. I'll be honest, I'm not sitting here -- If I'm interviewing Hillary Clinton, it's gonna be a hundred times harder than any Republican, because I believe the Republicans represent, and have a far better vision, one that I agree with, I just have less disagreement with them. I'm not a journalist, I'm a talk show host. I can't think of any question that has come up, that I have wanted to ask these candidates, that was relevant to ask these candidates, that I haven't asked them. I've asked them everything.

    Media Matters study found that in 2015, Hannity hosted 35 percent of all total interviews of Trump on Fox News. Hannity also gave Trump the vast majority of interviews compared to other GOP candidates in 2015 at 35 percent with over 8 hours of total airtime:


  • Gertz: Americans Are "Mired In A Campaign Dominated By Trump" Because "The Media Made It So"

    Gertz: Americans Are "Mired In A Campaign Dominated By Trump" Because "The Media Made It So"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an op-ed for U.S. News & World ReportMedia Matters research director Matt Gertz described how Donald Trump mirrors longstanding pillars of right-wing media and how mainstream media enables him to dominate the airwaves.

    In an April 1 op-ed for U.S. News' "Debate Club," Media Matters' Matthew Gertz explained that "conservative media created the platform and mentality on which Trump built his campaign," while the mainstream media gave Trump unprecedented legitimacy to "boost their ratings":

    Conservative media created the platform and mentality on which Trump built his campaign, and television executives have buttressed it, treating the businessman as a spectacle they could use to boost their ratings.

    Since President Barack Obama's election, right-wing media have made fervent opposition to the president and the progressive movement their overwhelming priority, regularly attacking any Republican politician who steps out of line. They have doubled down on their obsessive opposition to immigration reform and anti-Muslim attacks. And Trump's extreme positions and violent rhetoric mirror those priorities.


    While the conservative media's support for Trump has been based on ideology, the mainstream media's enthusiasm has been based on commercialism. Trump has enjoyed the benefit of a complacent television news industry that is reaping the rewards of the high ratings and resulting ad revenue the GOP front-runner creates. As CBS executive chairman Les Moonves put it, "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS. ... I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going."

    When the networks aren't broadcasting Trump speeches, rallies and interviews, they are talking about Trump's latest comments, allowing the candidate to dictate the conversation. According to the media tracking firm mediaQuant, Trump has received nearly $2 billion in earned media during the presidential campaign. By comparison, Sen. Ted Cruz has received $313 million.

    The GOP front-runner also benefits from the many broadcast and cable news shows that are willing to let him call in to their programs, rather than appearing in person or by satellite. This unprecedented practice allows him to dominate interviews, talking through tough questions without having to worry that his facial reactions or body language could compromise his performance.


    With seven months to go before Election Day, we are mired in a campaign dominated by Trump. We got there in part because the media made it so.

  • Despite Saturating The Airwaves, Trump Has Yet To Sit Down With Hispanic Media

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ Versión en español

    Despite giving generous amounts of interview time to nearly every other broadcast news network, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has yet to sit down with the largest Spanish-language news network.

    In roughly nine months of campaigning, Trump has saturated the airwaves with all sorts of media appearances, even taking advantage of unprecedented phone-interview privileges on nearly every major broadcast news network. Yet, the candidate has not granted Univision, the largest Spanish-language network, a single interview, and his campaign has repeatedly blocked Hispanic media journalists from attending his events or asking questions at them, even while granting press credentials to white nationalist media.

    Univision's Jorge Ramos first attempted to get face time with Trump in June, seeking to confront him for his vitriolic anti-immigrant remarks, but Trump responded by publishing the journalist's personal contact information online and mocking Univision for "begging" him for an interview. In August, Trump threw Ramos out of a press conference in Iowa, saying, "Go back to Univision," after Ramos attempted to question the candidate about his immigration plan. One day after settling a lawsuit with the network in February, Trump vowed to grant Ramos an interview, but Ramos told CNN's Reliable Sources on March 20 that he is "'still waiting.'"

    Ramos hasn't been the only Hispanic journalist targeted by Trump's anti-press antics. The candidate also shut down Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart, another highly visible Hispanic journalist in the United States, during a press conference, calling on the reporter only to tell him, "You're finished!" and to say that Telemundo should be "ashamed," before touting his $500 million lawsuit against Univision. Trump did sit for an interview with Diaz-Balart in June, prior to the press conference.

    Hispanic media has contributed meaningful coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign, by conducting fact checks and relentlessly holding candidates accountable, and many Latinos say Univision is their most trusted institution, second only to the Catholic Church.

    Data demonstrates that in order to win the White House, Republican presidential candidates will need to garner at least 40 percent of the Latino vote, which makes Donald Trump's decision to ignore the platforms that can effectively reach this important constituency particularly perplexing.

    CORRECTION: The original piece erroneously stated that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had not done interviews with either Univision and Telemundo. In fact, while the candidate has not submitted to an interview with Univision, the biggest Spanish-language network, he sat for one interview with Telemundo in June.