Media watch an exchange between Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina during the second US Republican Presidential candidates debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, USA, 16 September 2015. EPA/MIKE NELSON

There was a moment right around Halloween when American television networks seemed to tire of Donald Trump. After months of dominating his Republican presidential rivals on cable news, the real estate mogul suddenly found himself trailing Ben Carson and Marco Rubio in on-air mentions, according to Internet Archive data collected by the GDELT Project.

The moment didn't last long.

Trump is back to dominating other Republicans - and even the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton - in television exposure.


That's true even if you only look at exposure on Fox News:


If you narrow only to the seven-day period ending Dec. 6 - before his latest comments about blocking Muslims from entering America - you see just how massive Trump's advantage is:



It's overly simplified to say all this exposure has put Trump atop the Republican polls; Jeb Bush has also been on television a lot, and he's languishing in low single digits. But it's a clear economic advantage for a candidate to get free air time, saving his or her campaign the expense of buying TV ads. Since he entered the race, Trump has pressed that advantage tremendously, and the networks have gone along with it.