It's been a fight, but Fox News will at last air Media Matters' ad discussing the $1 million donation made by Fox News' parent, News Corp., to the Republican Governors Association. The ad is scheduled to appear tonight during The O'Reilly Factor, which begins at 8 p.m. ET.
Politico has detailed what Media Matters went through to gain approval for the ad; it took three tries before Fox News would accept it. The result, as The Washington Post's Greg Sargent points out, is that "Fox primetime viewers will finally learn that fair and balanced Fox News's parent company gave $1 million 'to oppose Democratic candidates for office this November.' "
We rarely tell people to watch Fox News, so check it out tonight as we bring the facts directly to a news organization that has been reluctant to report them.
UPDATE: Here's the ad:
This morning, Bloomberg News carried this stunning revelation:
"Programmers from North Korea's General Federation of Science and Technology developed a 2007 mobile-phone bowling game based on the 1998 film, as well as "Men in Black: Alien Assault," according to two executives at Nosotek Joint Venture Company, which markets software from North Korea for foreign clients. Both games were published by a unit of News Corp., the New York-based media company, a spokeswoman for the unit said."
Yes, News Corp.'s software division is funneling money into the pocket of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. Sean Hannity has asked, "Why would we sit down with a mad man like Adolf Jr., Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-Il?" Perhaps he needs to pose that same question in News Corp.'s executive suite.
In fact, I wonder what Fox News personalities think of their boss' business dealings considering their own thoughts on the North Korean regime.
Consider: (From Nexis)
Glenn Beck, on the September 1, 2010, edition of his Fox News show:
I have news for you. There are a lot of universities that are just as dangerous with indoctrination of our children as these terror groups are in Iran or in North Korea. With the poll numbers continuing to slide for the new health care bill, our Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, just said and I quote, "We need a reeducation process on healthcare.
Bill Kristol, on the July 23, 2010 edition of Special Report:
What I think North Korea is a horrible regime that kills people and has gotten away with things in the past. Secretary Clinton and Gates have been strong. This is a situation the Obama administration came into office disliking what the Bush administration had done vis-a-vis North Korea, and announcing a new relationship with China, strategic reassurance. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg giving a speech on this.
They were mugged by reality. The problem wasn't Bush, it was North Korea. And the big underlying story is China has not helped us make North Korea a responsible state.
Neil Cavuto, on the May 25, 2010 edition of Your World:
CAVUTO: But I guess what I would curious, do you think that it compromises our national security? I mean, I wonder if it`s just an accident that the nut in North Korea isn`t showboating the way he is precisely because he knows the world is kind of distracted.
EAGLEBURGER: Good for you. Neil, again, you will remember, I think, one time some time ago when we were talking about this and I said to you that I was afraid that people like the North Koreans were going to take a look at the wimpishness of this administration and decide it was a very opportune time to do some tough things.
I think what -- what the people in Pyongyang are now seeing is a president of the United States who largely has lost out in terms of anything in the way of some sensible approaches to foreign policy issues, to defense and to anything else in this budget.
And, yes, I think it`s made a difference, and it`s not just with the North Koreans, by the way. I think it has affected the Russians. I think it has affected the Chinese. And every single time this goes on like this, we end up with a foreign policy problem, which is going to be more and more difficult to solve, because everybody has judged us as no longer ready to do the things that, for a very long time, they all knew that we Americans would do if we were tread on.
Sean Hannity, on the April 13, 2010 edition of his Fox News show:
HANNITY: This president is now cutting our nuclear defenses on a day that he admits that al Qaeda is seeking them and would use them. That makes no sense to me.
DOUG SCHOEN: Sean, frankly, I'm more concerned that we left Iran and North Korea out of this summit. But we have to talk about the good, bad, and to cooperate.
HANNITY: Why would we sit down with a mad man like Adolf Jr., Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-Il?
Follow Ari Rabin-Havt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/arirabinhavt
Is there any part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire not embroiled in controversy?
The New York Times Magazine has an explosive report detailing how reporters at News of the World -- a Murdoch property and Britain's largest tabloid -- were found to have hacked the phones of Royal family members and those of their inner circle last year.
The piece by Don Van Natta Jr., Jo Becker, and Graham Bowley is a must read and includes some startling background on the year-old scandal (emphasis added):
As Scotland Yard tracked [News of the World reporters Clive] Goodman and [Glenn] Mulcaire, the two men hacked into Prince Harry's mobile-phone messages. On April 9, 2006, Goodman produced a follow-up article in News of the World about the apparent distress of Prince Harry's girlfriend over the matter. Headlined "Chelsy Tears Strip Off Harry!" the piece quoted, verbatim, a voice mail Prince Harry had received from his brother teasing him about his predicament.
The palace was in an uproar, especially when it suspected that the two men were also listening to the voice mail of Prince William, the second in line to the throne. The eavesdropping could not have gone higher inside the royal family, since Prince Charles and the queen were hardly regular mobile-phone users. But it seemingly went everywhere else in British society. Scotland Yard collected evidence indicating that reporters at News of the World might have hacked the phone messages of hundreds of celebrities, government officials, soccer stars -- anyone whose personal secrets could be tabloid fodder. Only now, more than four years later, are most of them beginning to find out.
As of this summer, five people have filed lawsuits accusing News Group Newspapers, a division of Rupert Murdoch's publishing empire that includes News of the World, of breaking into their voice mail. Additional cases are being prepared, including one seeking a judicial review of Scotland Yard's handling of the investigation. The litigation is beginning to expose just how far the hacking went, something that Scotland Yard did not do. In fact, an examination based on police records, court documents and interviews with investigators and reporters shows that Britain's revered police agency failed to pursue leads suggesting that one of the country's most powerful newspapers was routinely listening in on its citizens.
Roger Ailes -- the Fox News boss who apparently talked News Corp. honcho Rupert Murdoch into giving that $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors' Association -- didn't make as much money this year as he did last year.
The Hollywood Reporter's Georg Szalai reports:
[Rupert Murdoch's] salary was unchanged at $8.1 million, while his performance-based bonus dropped to $4.4 million. His total compensation compared with $22.2 million a year earlier. The figures were detailed in a regulatory filing late Tuesday.
Fox News head Roger Ailes made only $14.0 million, down from $22.1 million the year before, even though he had a higher bonus and higher incentive plan compensation. The decline was driven by a dip in the theoretical value of pension and other earnings, after a big pension payout last year.
From time to time I fill in as guest host of the nationally syndicated Leslie Marshall Show. Leslie is a great progressive and you've likely seen her on the cable networks going up against right-wingers.
Filling in as guest host Wednesday night, I brought Media Matters vice president of research and communications Ari Rabin-Havt on to chat about News Corp.'s $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors' Association and the Dr. Laura controversy:
The Leslie Marshall Show airs live from 7 to 10 p.m. ET on radio stations from coast to coast. You can listen to the show streaming online, follow the show on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to the show's podcast so you can listen on the go.
According to a report by Yahoo! News' John Cook, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal -- the second-largest shareholder of Fox News' parent company News Corp. -- has deep funding ties to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the "principal planner" of the Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.
You'd think that alone would give pause to the screeching heads on Fox News that repeatedly try to tie Rauf "by way of lengthy and often confusing chains of causation and association" to terrorism.
The opponents of the proposed Cordoba Initiative Islamic center planned for lower Manhattan are fond of suggesting, by way of lengthy and often confusing chains of causation and association, that its principal planner Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is connected to terrorism. "The imam has been tied to some shady characters," Fox Business Channel's Eric Bolling recently said, "so should we worry that terror dollars could be funding the project?" Blogger Pamela Geller, who has become a regular talking head on cable news channels to denounce the mosque, has noted Rauf's involvement with a Malaysian peace group that funded the group that organized the Gaza flotilla under the headline, "Ground Zero Imam Rauf's 'Charity' Funded Genocide Mission."
On last night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart skewered these antics as a "dangerous game of guilt by association you can play with almost anybody," and proceeded to tie Fox News to Al Qaeda by connecting Fox News parent News Corp's second-largest shareholder, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, to the Carlyle Group, which has done business with the bin Laden family, "one of whose sons--obviously I'm not going to say which one--may be anti-American." But Stewart didn't need to take all those steps to make the connection: Al-Waleed has directly funded Rauf's projects to the tune of more than $300,000. If Fox newscasters can darkly suggest "terror dollars" are sluicing into the Islamic Center's coffers via "shady characters," then are Al-Waleed, and News Corp. leader Rupert Murdoch, by the same logic, also terror stooges? (The "Daily Show" video appears after the jump.)
Indeed, as none other than Rupert Murdoch's New York Post reported last May, the Kingdom Foundation, al-Waleed's personal charity, has donated a total of $305,000 to Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, a leadership and networking project sponsored jointly by two of Rauf's organizations, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative. Al-Waleed owns a seven percent, $2.3 billion stake in News Corporation. Likewise, News Corporation owns a 9 percent, $70 million stake--purchased in February--in Rotana, Al-Waleed's Saudi media conglomerate. Put another way: Rupert Murdoch and Fox News are in business, to the tune of billions of dollars, with one of the "Terror Mosque Imam's" principal patrons.
Fox News had no comment. An e-mail to Al-Waleed's Kingdom Holdings was not returned.
Cook's entire piece is well worth a read, especially if you want to see Geller spin the lack of outrage based on Fox News' ties to al-Waleed.
When Media Matters first highlighted reports that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- the parent company of outlets like Fox News, Wall Street Journal and New York Post -- had given a $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors' Association, we noted the possible motivation behind the massive contribution:
According to the [Bloomberg] article, News Corp. is actually the RGA's "biggest corporate donor." Bloomberg suggests that News Corp. has made these donations due to their opposition to "proposed federal rule changes that would weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies," stating that "Governors may have a stake in the issue."
Over on Newser.com's Off The Grid blog, Michael Wolff has even more to say about the possible motivation. He writes (emphasis added):
The notable thing about Rupert Murdoch donating a million bucks to the Republican Governors Association is not that he's risking general censure and opprobrium with this donation, but that he's donating money at all. Murdoch hates the idea of giving away money for nothing. The simple public relations idea of courting goodwill by donating an infinitesimal part of your wealth to a charity of your choice is anathema to Murdoch. He thinks the rich guys who do it are phonies. He's always irritated with his 102-year-old mother for supporting Australian charities—in this regard he rather thinks she's a phony.
Just say a little bird told me … the money doesn't come from Rupert.
The company is claiming the donation has nothing to do with its news side, going so far as to audaciously say, "There is a strict wall between business and editorial." The "corporate side" made the donation, News Corp.'s hapless spokesman insists. But the central advocate for giving the dough has been none other than Fox Chief Roger Ailes. In the past, Ailes has been stymied or neutralized in his quest to have the company put its corporate money where its mouth is, because the No. 2 in the company until last summer, Peter Chernin, was a Democrat.
With Chernin gone, and with Fox News outperforming most other parts of the company, Ailes is the central voice. What's more, Chernin's sidekick, corporate PR-guy Gary Ginsberg, who could be counted on to use the threat of bad press to keep Murdoch from giving in to Ailes' none-too-politic schemes and demands, is also gone—purged, in part, by Ailes.
Newsbusters' attempts to explain away Fox News parent News Corp's $1 million contribution to the GOP would be funny if they weren't so pathetic.
Earlier this week, Tim Graham offered the utterly inane defense that "Democrats are having a fit over the RGA donation, even if the overall donation levels are about even." By "overall donation levels are about even," Graham was referring to the fact that, according to the Washington Post, prior to the $1 million contribution, "the News Corp./Fox political action committee had given 54 percent of its donations to Democrats and 46 percent to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics … News Corp. also gave $45,000 each to GOP and Democratic campaign committees on Capitol Hill."
Now, that 54/46 split obscures the dollar amounts in question, which is roughly $78,000 to Democrats and $66,500 to Republicans. Add in the $45,000 each to the GOP and Democratic campaign committees and we're talking about $123,000 to Democrats and $111,500 to Republicans -- which is, indeed, "about even." But wait! We can't just ignore that $1 million contribution in assessing "overall donation levels." It is, after all, an actual contribution of actual money that can be spent on actual political activities. When you add it to the mix, Fox has given the GOP about $1.1 million, and Democrats about $123,000 -- that's nearly ten times as much to the GOP. And yet Graham claimed that "overall donation levels are about even"! That's just incredibly false. In doing so, he conveniently omitted any mention of the actual dollar amounts referred to by the 54/46 split, which would have given away his little ruse. That's just incredibly dishonest.
Comedian Jon Stewart on Wednesday bashed Fox News for parent company News Corporation's $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association.
Unfortunately, Stewart failed to inform his viewers that Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, has so far given disproportionately to Democrats this year.
according to Open Secrets, Viacom's Political Action Committee has so far this year contributed 62 percent of its money to Democrats and only 38 percent to Republicans
In 2008, this ratio was 58 percent Democrats, 42 percent Republicans
Sheppard stopped there, not telling readers what the numbers were for 2006, or 2004, or 2002, or 2000, or 1998. Call me a cynic, but I suspect that's because Viacom gave more than 60 percent of its PAC contributions to Republicans in 2006 and 2004, and a majority to Republicans in 2002 and 1998 (Viacom's PAC contributions were split between the parties 50/50 in 2000.)
See, PAC contributions tend to flow to the party in power, as corporate PACs tend to give money to incumbents. Given that, Viacom's contribution pattern isn't particularly noteworthy. Not to mention the fact that Sheppard has a problem of scale that he isn't addressing: According to the data Sheppard cited, Viacom's PAC has given a total of $176,700 to politicians of both parties this year, so that 62/38 split in favor of the Democrats results in about a $42,000 advantage. Now, remember, Fox/News Corp have given about one million dollars more to the GOP than the Dems this cycle. So responding by pointing to the $42,000 advantage Democrats have in Viacom contributions is pretty silly. Maybe that's why Sheppard used percentages rather than raw numbers? Nah, he wouldn't be that dishonest … would he?
Sheppard then repeats Graham's absurd argument:
Beyond this, as NewsBusters reported hours before Stewart made his comments, prior to this $1 million donation, News Corp. had actually given 54 percent of its donations to Democrats and 46 percent to Republicans.
Yes, it's true: if you don't count News Corp's $1 million contribution to the GOP, it has given Democrats slightly more than it has given Republicans! And if you don't count everything Noel Sheppard has ever written, he rarely makes a fool of himself in public.
UPDATE: Graham has appended a correction to his post, acknowledging: "Adding $1 million to the GOP side shows a more dramatic tilt to the GOP than my faulty original assumption."
Last night on MSNBC's Ed Show, Democratic Governors' Association executive director Nathan Daschle discussed the $1 million donation given to the Republican Governors' Association by News Corp. -- Fox News' parent company -- saying the right-wing network was, "literally the mouthpiece of the Republican Party." He also discussed his numerous failed attempts to appear on the outlet and discuss the issue:
Now Daschle is calling on Fox News to display a disclaimer whenever it discusses governors or 2010 gubernatorial races. As Politico's Ben Smith notes:
Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Nathan Daschle writes Fox News chief Roger Ailes with a challenge:
In the interest of some fairness and balance, I request that you add a formal disclaimer to your news coverage any time any of your programs cover governors or gubernatorial races between now and Election Day. I suggest that the disclaimer say: "News Corp., parent company of Fox News, provided $1 million to defeat Democratic governors in November." If you do not add a disclaimer, I request that you and your staff members on the "fair and balanced" side of the network demand that the contribution be returned.
From the August 17 edition of Comedy Central's Colbert Report:
We already know that News Corp.'s $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association all but confirms that Fox News is little more than the media arm of the Republican Party. But it turns out that the donation may violate company policy as well.
The News Corp. website has posted the company's "Standards of Business Conduct." Under the section "Dealing With Government Officials," it states (emphasis added):
No payment shall be made to, or for the benefit of, any public official in order to induce or entice such official to: enact, defeat or violate any law or regulation for the Company's benefit; influence any official act; or obtain any favorable action by a governmental agency or official on behalf of the Company.
Social amenities, entertainment and other courtesies may be extended to government officials or employees only to the extent appropriate and reasonable under applicable laws and customs. Gifts of greater than nominal value to, or lavish entertainment of, public officials are prohibited. No gifts in the form of cash, stock or other similar consideration shall be given, regardless of amount. Any gift about which an employee is uncertain should not be made without the prior written approval of the Company's General Counsel. Any expenses incurred by a Company employee in connection with the matters discussed herein shall be accurately recorded on the Company's books and records.
Further, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal parent that News Corp. acquired a couple years back, has a similar policy stating that "Dow Jones does not contribute, directly or indirectly, to political campaigns or to political parties or groups seeking to raise money for political campaigns or parties, and Dow Jones does not and will not reimburse any employee for any political contribution made by an employee.
News Corp. stated that its reason for donating to the RGA was that "the RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy." Bloomberg pointed out that one possible motivation for the donation is possible state influence on "proposed federal rule changes that would weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies."
It appears that News Corp.'s donation goes against the spirit, if not the letter, of its own prohibitions against such contributions.
(h/t Think Progress)
In May, I noted that Rupert Murdoch's Times Online and Sun Online were clamping down on traffic stats in advance of putting up a paywall.
In retrospect the move appears to have been adept, especially when you consider the post-paywall traffic decline of more than 1.2 million readers from the two papers.
MediaWeek's Sarah Shearman reports:
In May, the free-to-access website Timesonline.co.uk attracted 2.79 million unique users in the UK, a slight increase on the level of the previous three months.
News International launched its separate Thetimes.co.uk and Thesundaytimes.co.uk websites on 25 May. It made registration compulsory and began redirecting users from the old site on 15 June and started charging for access to both sites on 2 July.
According to ComScore, the combined number of unique visitors to the two new sites has fallen to 1.61 milion in July, from 2.22 million in June, and 2.79 million in May.
The average number of minutes each user spent on the site was 7.6 in May, 5.8 in June and 4 in July.
Page views have dropped from 29 million in May to 20 million in June and 9 million in July.
News International has run an introductory offer offering subscribers 30 days' access for £1. Its basic pricing is £1 for a day's access to The Times and The Sunday Times and £2 for a week, while subscribers to each newspaper get free access to the related website.
No indications have yet emerged from the company as to how many people have subscribed or how much revenue subscriptions have generated.
The figures relating to dwell time and page impressions on the site suggest the actual number of subscribers is much lower than the 1.6 million recorded by ComScore, with many people accessing the homepage and then moving on, adding to the overall unique users but drastically reducing average time spent on site.
On October 30, 2008, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly went off on one of his trademark tirades about the media, complaining that they're all irredeemably liberal and biased, and the only hope for the free press in America was "Fair and Balanced" Fox News. Of particularly note was O'Reilly's scathing attack on General Electric, the parent company of NBC and one of O'Reilly's favorite punching bags, for "using its money and power to benefit a presidential candidate. That is a gross violation of the spirit of the constitutional powers given to a free press."
As O'Reilly put it, General Electric allegedly sided with Barack Obama so "they could lure millions of Obama supporters and make money."
Fast forward to today, and we find out that News Corp., the parent company of Bill O'Reilly's Fox News, has donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, an openly partisan outfit that helps to elect Republican gubernatorial candidates through campaign coordination and independent advertising. According to Politico's Ben Smith, a News Corp. spokesman said that the company "believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy."
Here we have News Corp., to borrow O'Reilly's words, "using its money and power to benefit" several Republican candidates for statewide office. And unlike General Electric, whose alleged support, according to O'Reilly, came in the form of biased news coverage, News Corp. has made a direct cash contribution to this Republican outfit.
So when can we expect O'Reilly's denunciation of News Corp.'s "gross violation of the spirit of the constitutional powers given to a free press"?
Bloomberg News reports today (h/t Daily Kos' KingOneEye) that News Corp. -- the media giant which owns Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- has donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, the GOP organization that helps coordinate Republican gubernatorial campaigns and pays for independent ads in support of their candidates.
Media Matters has confirmed Bloomberg's report using publicly available IRS filings. We also found no evidence of corresponding donations to the Democratic Governors Association in the current political cycle. News Corp. wants Republicans elected to office, and they're willing to spend money to make it happen.
According to the article, News Corp. is actually the RGA's "biggest corporate donor." Bloomberg suggests that News Corp. has made these donations due to their opposition to "proposed federal rule changes that would weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies," stating that "Governors may have a stake in the issue."
Whether or not that is the case, this large corporate donation to the GOP underscores News Corp.'s role as an appendage of the Republican Party.
UPDATE: Politico's Ben Smith has received the following quote from a News Corp. spokesman: "News Corporation believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy." They're not trying to hide it anymore. As the coverage of its media outlets indicates, News Corp. supports the Republican Party's platform. It's just now started putting its money where its mouth has long been.
Coming soon to your iPad or mobile device, Rupert Murdoch's News Corps brings you the news in what is being billed as a "new national digital newspaper to be distributed exclusively as paid content."
The new digital paper will be produced under the roof of Murdoch's New York Post so it is sure to tug News Corps' right-wing party line.
The Los Angeles Times Dawn C. Chmielewski reports:
News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is embarking on an ambitious plan for a new national digital newspaper to be distributed exclusively as paid content for tablet computers such as Apple Inc.'s iPad and mobile phones.
The initiative, which would directly compete with the New York Times, USA Today and other national publications, is the latest attempt by a major media organization to harness sexy new devices to reach readers who increasingly consume their news on the go. The development underscores how the iPad is transforming the reading habits of consumers much like the iPod changed how people listen to music.
"We'll have young people reading newspapers," the 79-year-old Murdoch said during the company's Aug. 4 earnings call. "It's a real game changer in the presentation of news."
Unlike News Corp.'s business-centric Wall Street Journal, the new digital newspaper would target a more general readership, offering short, snappy stories that could be digested quickly. The newsroom would operate under the auspices of Murdoch's New York Post and be overseen by its managing editor, Jesse Angelo. News Corp. has yet to set a launch date, although people familiar with the matter said the news organization would like it to debut by year's end.
Although it would draw the reporting resources of the Post and Dow Jones, Murdoch could potentially invest millions of dollars to staff the operation and charge a yet-to-be determined subscription fee. One person familiar with the plan said News Corp. envisions a staff of several dozen reporters and editors and that the budget has not yet been determined.