Fox News host and Donald Trump hype man Sean Hannity's election coverage has given the Trump campaign the equivalent of $31 million in free advertising, according to Media Matters.
As a reference point, Trump's campaign has spent a total of just $4.3 million on television ad buys to date, paling in comparison to the $68.2 million spent by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Trump's success in the Republican primaries despite running one of the most ad-anemic campaigns in recent memory was in large part attributable to his unparalleled ability to generate earned media coverage. The New York Times found that Trump received nearly $2 billion in free news coverage during the primary cycle, more earned media than all of his Republican competitors combined.
Obviously, not all of Trump's free coverage has been sympathetic, but Hannity's prime-time Fox News program has been a consistently sympathetic venue for Trump, drawing criticism from liberals and conservatives alike. According to Media Matters' analysis, since the launch of Trump's campaign Hannity has devoted over 22 hours of airtime to interviews with the candidate.
In his interviews with Trump, Hannity has often served as little more than a sympathetic foil, setting up Trump to deliver talking point with minimal scrutiny. For example (as Salon's Simon Maloy previously pointed out) Trump appeared on Hannity's program in the wake of his controversial comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, where he had the opportunity respond to softball questions like these:
Mr. Trump, I know you released a lengthy statement today as it relates to the whole Trump University case. Included in that is a website where people can look at the comments, the approval of all the students that liked your course. Two questions regarding this: one, do you think you should have stuck to the politics of the case, where the judge clearly has a political agenda? And do you regret that at all?
I watched Republicans attack you in the last 24 hours, and I’m thinking I haven’t heard some of these Republicans attack Barack Obama, who was able to pass his entire agenda because they wouldn’t fight him, as hard as they’re fighting you. Is that a feeling you have?
In addition to contributing favorable coverage, the New York Times reported this week that Hannity has acted as an informal adviser to the Trump campaign, providing "Trump, his family members and advisers with suggestions on strategy and messaging."
“I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States," Hannity told the Times. "I never claimed to be a journalist.” (He has, in fact, claimed to be a journalist.)