This article has been updated.
Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who claims to have had a sexual relationship with President Trump a decade ago, has done a good job of keeping her name in the news. To be fair, that’s largely a function of her attorney, Michael Avenatti, who has appeared on a slew of news shows and who has announced steps like offering to return the $130,000 that both sides agree she was paid for her silence.
Each day over the past two weeks, it seems, Daniels has been in the news. Unless, that is, your main news source is Fox News, in which case you’ve seen very little discussion of Daniels at all.
Analysis of closed captions collected by the Internet Archive shows that Fox has spent less than 1 percent of its airtime on any given day covering the Daniels story. The peak was March 7, the day after Daniels filed a lawsuit against Trump alleging that the agreement for her to stay quiet was invalid. On that day, 0.6 percent of Fox News’s coverage addressed the Daniels story. By comparison, 2.5 percent of MSNBC’s coverage that day dealt with Daniels (four times as much) and 4.6 percent of CNN’s coverage did (seven times as much).
If you were tuning in during prime time, the coverage was even more sparse. During the week of March 5 to March 9, Fox News programs mentioned Daniels’s name nine times between 7 and 11 p.m., compared with 144 mentions on MSNBC and 141 mentions on CNN.
Last week, the conversation died down a bit. MSNBC mentioned her name 44 times, and CNN mentioned it 79 times during those hours.
Fox News didn’t mention her once.
During those hours, anyway. The Daniels story has come up a few times on non-prime-time shows. According to the Internet Archive’s data, the show that’s mentioned her the most over the past month is “Fox News @ Night,” a program that airs from 11 p.m. to midnight. It has covered the Daniels story on as many days as has Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show.” The Daniels story has also been mentioned on the media analysis show “Media Buzz” and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Shepard Smith’s daytime show.
When Daniels was covered on Fox in prime time, it was often a mention that was something like this.
Earlier this month, Suffolk University released a poll that included analysis of the news outlets most trusted by Americans. One-fifth of Americans said that Fox News was the news or commentary source they trusted the most, a group that was primarily made up of Republicans. (More than half of Republicans identified the network as their most trusted source.)
Among those who approve of Trump’s job performance, 47 percent cited Fox News as their most trusted network. Among those who view Trump favorably, half cited Fox. More than 8 in 10 of those who trust Fox the most view Trump favorably.
There’s a chicken-egg question here. Does Fox give the Stormy Daniels story a light touch because its audience is largely supportive of Trump or is Fox’s audience largely supportive of Trump because of the coverage they see on Fox? Or is it both?
There was one other interesting detail in that Suffolk poll: Among those with an unfavorable view of the news media, a plurality — about a third — said they trusted Fox News the most.
Update: After this article was published, Avenatti contacted The Post.
“Despite the fact that I often watch Fox News, I have not been invited to appear on Fox News at all in connection with this case,” Avenatti said in a phone call. “Not one time. They have contacted me for information and I have promptly cooperated with every one of their requests. But I have never been asked for an interview.”
That’s all the more remarkable, he said, because he’d received “hundreds” of request from other outlets around the world. But not Fox News.