Fox News Channel has booked one-hour interviews and voter Q&As with each of the four remaining Republican candidates across its entire Wednesday primetime – a potential nose-punch to CNN’s GOP debate the next night and, perhaps, CNN’s Democratic debate on Wednesday.
FNC’s town-hall-palooza begins at 7 PM ET tomorrow, when On The Record With Greta Van Susteren will go to Chicago to speak with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who will take questions from the host, from members of the live audience, and from viewers at home.
The O’Reilly Factor, FNC’s highest-rated show, will be telecast town-hall-less at 8 PM ET.
At 9, when CNN’s Dem debate is getting underway in Miami, FNC’s The Kelly File will feature Megyn Kelly attending a campaign event in North Carolina for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Kelly will interview Cruz in front of his supporters, also giving some of them a chance to speak to the candidate. Then, at 11 PM ET, the time slot that usually houses The O’Reilly Factor repeats, Kelly will be seen in Florida interviewing that state’s Sen. Marco Rubio.
But, before Kelly’s Rubio sit-down, at 10 PM ET, opposite CNN’s Dem candidate confab, Sean Hannity will spend a full hour with GOP front-runner Donald Trump from the campaign trail in Fayetteville, N.C. Hannity will include an interview with Trump on the latest with his campaign, and voter questions from a live audience. (FNC already took a swipe at CNN’s Dem debate, hosting candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Monday in the network’s first Dem town hall of this election cycle).
MSNBC announced yesterday it will conduct a Rubio town hall of its own on Wednesday night at 8 PM, while FNC is airing The O’Reilly Factor.
FNC, which ranked No. 1 among basic cable networks for a record-breaking seventh consecutive week last week, has previously done hour-long interviews with candidates. Stacking them all on one night in the eve of the candidates’ debate on a competing network is an interesting shot back at CNN, which has saturated its schedule with debates and town halls, boosting its ranking last week to No. 2 among cable nets in primetime.
On the Dem side, CNN staged last Sunday’s debate from Flint, MI, following a February 23 town hall, a February 3 town hall, a January 25 town hall, and the first Dem debate on October 13, 2015.
On the GOP side, CNN hosts a GOP debate this Thursday, and also telecast the February 25 debate, a December 15, 2015 debate, and a September 16, 2015 debate, as well as a two-night town hall on February 17-18 in which Anderson Cooper similarly interviewed each of the Republican hopefuls individually for a full hour and provided some pre-screened attendees the opportunity to put questions to each candidate.