Yesterday Obama campaigned with JayZ & Springsteen while Hurricane Sandy victims across NY & NJ are still decimated by Sandy. Wrong!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
During three Trump rallies last week, Fox News showed clips and highlights from his speeches but stuck largely with its normal weekday prime-time programming. On Saturday, when “Fox Report Weekend” and “Justice with Judge Jeanine” would ordinarily air, the network showed Trump’s speech from Topeka, Kan., in full. But on Tuesday, a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was particularly hard to find — it was not aired live on any major network, and even C-SPAN cut away for other news. And on Wednesday night, as Trump took the stage in Erie, Pa., at 7 p.m., Fox News stuck with its coverage of Hurricane Michael.
But from Fox’s perspective, Trump is no longer a sure bet to beat Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham. For instance, on Aug. 30, Fox News’ 8 p.m. hour was mostly consumed by Trump’s rally in Evansville, Ind., earning 2.536 million viewers, according to Nielsen, compared to the 2.8 million viewers Carlson averaged at that time during 2018’s third quarter.
The biggest change is the sheer number of rallies. With so many, “they don’t want to give up so much prime-time real estate,” said one person familiar with Fox News’ decision making.
Trump’s campaign speeches tend to follow a similar pattern, and this person said network officials’ fear was that too much repetition would lead to lower ratings. That could particularly be a problem during a busy news period like the first week of October, when Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was still up in the air.
“They’re going with the route they think will give the best ratings performance,” the person said.Not to worry, though:
Compounding the issue, Fox News can’t take commercial breaks while Trump is speaking — he often goes on for more than an hour — costing the network some of its best advertising slots. With so many rallies and little promise of a ratings boost, there’s not much incentive for the network to clear air time.
One senior White House official was unsure why the network would decide to cut away from presidential rallies, saying officials planned “to look into that” and wouldn’t be surprised if White House communications director Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive, was in touch with former colleagues about the trend.
Yeah, that'll work. Who gets to break the news to Trump?