In the months preceding the midterm election, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation donated $1.25 million to the Republican Governors Association and $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which aggressively campaigned in support of Republicans.
According to a November 23 analysis by Mark Howard at News Corpse, the Chamber of Commerce purchased $1,223,770 in ads from local broadcast stations owned by News Corp:
After it was disclosed that Murdoch had contributed a million dollars each to the Republican Governor's Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it was obvious that these ultra-partisan organizations would be using that money largely to advance the electoral prospects of conservatives and Republicans by producing and distributing television ads. And those ads would likely be placed on networks and stations specifically selected to reach a friendly audience - like maybe Fox.
An analysis of data obtained from Media Matters reveals that one of Murdoch's beneficiaries, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, purchased over $20,000,000 in ads on local broadcast stations across the country. In five of those markets (three in the top ten) there are one or more stations owned by Fox Television. On those stations the Chamber bought $1,223,770 in ads. That means that News Corp earned $223,770 in profits on their million dollar donation to the Chamber.
Looking at this another way, News Corp gave the Chamber a million dollars to buy ads with. Then the Chamber gave the money right back to News Corp with 22% "interest." So News Corp makes a healthy profit and the Chamber gets their ads broadcast for a 78% discount. And both get to further their shared political agenda. Remember also that the revenue on the analysis above is just from Fox-owned broadcast stations. It does not include ad buys on the cable Fox News Channel. Nor does it include revenue from any other recipient of Murdoch's largesse, like the Republican Governor's Association. So there may be millions more in earnings from these allegedly benevolent contributions flowing from the Murdoch media empire.
As we noted, the donations to the RGA and the Chamber raised ethical questions and drew criticism from some News Corp shareholders, to which Murdoch responded that it was "in the interest of the country and of all the shareholders ... that there be a fair amount of change in Washington." Murdoch has also said he did not expect the donation to the Chamber of Commerce to become public.
- News Corp.