Candidate Face Time on News Networks
The NYT has compiled an interesting graphic, tracking the amount of time the news networks have devoted to interviewing each of the 2008 presidential candidates:
The rationale behind the graphic was to demonstrate that Fox News gives an inordinate amount of time to Rudy Giuliani and to argue that this is owing to his relationship with CEO Roger Ailes. As TigerHawk notes, though, that argument is largely obviated in the piece’s 34th paragraph, which shows that the disparity is entirely owing to Sean Hannity’s constantly inviting Giuliani onto his show.
TigerHawk makes some interesting observations about how the networks generally favor Democratic candidates and the implications that has for the renewed debate on the Fairness Doctrine. More interesting to me, though, is the rather wide variance between television “face time” and candidate standings in the polls.
Here are the current RealClear Politics average poll standings:
While Giuliani is getting a disproportionate share of time at Fox, he’s actually getting rather short shrift for the runaway frontrunner. Even more strangely, Hillary Clinton is down toward the bottom of the list despite being the clear #1 on the Democratic side while also runs like Mike Huckabee, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd are getting mega exposure.
Now, certainly, one can understand why John McCain and even Biden are getting so much time, given their prominent roles in the Senate on major issues. And sometimes sitting governors make news even though their presidential aspirations are mere fantasy. Yet I don’t recall anything particularly important going on in Arkansas that would have catapulted Huckabee to the forefront of news coverage. Nor is he a Jesse Ventura or Dennis Kucinich who gets air time simply for his entertainment value.
All told, the programming decisions reflected in the NYT chart are simply bizarre. Perhaps it reflects the relative willingness of the candidates to appear anywhere, at any time the networks call?