Earlier, we noted Rupert Murdoch's lame explanation for News Corp.'s recent donations to the Republican Governor's Association and GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce. In short, Murdoch laughably claimed that the donation to the RGA "had nothing to do with Fox News" because he only gave the money due to his friendship with John Kasich, the former Fox News host that is currently the Republican nominee for Ohio Governor.
Discussing Fox's million dollar donation to Chamber of Commerce, Murdoch told Politico's Keach Hagey that News Corp. "didn't expect" the donation to become public. This raises the question: why is News Corp., which owns the largest cable news organization in the country, making secret political donations to GOP-aligned groups? And based on Fox's non-stop boosterism of the GOP, it's worth asking: has News Corp. made any other donations to GOP-aligned groups that they didn't "expect" will become public?
Last night, Politico's Keach Hagey got a response from Rupert Murdoch about News. Corp.'s recent million dollar donations to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors' Association. Murdoch claims that the donation to the RGA "doesn't reflect on Fox News" and "had nothing to do with Fox News." Murdoch buttresses this assertion by stating that the gift was actually a result of his "friendship with John Kasich."
Murdoch apparently has an interesting definition of "nothing to do with Fox News." John Kasich is the former Fox News host who is currently running for governor of Ohio. Kasich was with Fox News for nine years and used his platform there to position himself for his eventual run for governor. Despite announcing in March of 2008 that he was paving the way for a gubernatorial run, Kasich continued to appear regularly -- in at least 123 segments* -- on-air as a Fox contributor and host until he formally announced his run on June 1, 2009.
After Kasich officially declared his candidacy, he has continued to benefit from his close relationship with the network, with Fox hosts and personalities campaigning for him, offering him easy interviews/infomercials, and openly rooting for his candidacy. As Hagey noted, Kasich's relationship with the network has raised ethical concerns in the past. The Democratic Governors Association "filed a complain with the Ohio Elections Commission accusing Fox News of making an illegal in-kind donation to Kasich by running a chyron featuring Kasich's website while he was on 'The O'Reilly Factor' soliciting donations."
RGA chairman Haley Barbour has previously said that he "asked Rupert Murdoch to help us, and he thought about it, and called me back, and said he wanted to help us. I'm very grateful."
Fox News is so far down the ethical rabbit hole that Murdoch apparently thinks "this donation had nothing to do with Fox News, I was only donating because I'm close friends with the former Fox News host running for Governor of Ohio" is a reasonable explanation. News. Corp's treatment of Kasich bodes well for their current stable of no less than five potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.
And what about Fox's other million dollar donation to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce? Well, Murdoch has an explanation for that, too. See, he "didn't expect" it to become public, and News. Corp is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so Murdoch "just thought [he] was being a good member."
Add another example to Rupert Murdoch's "see no evil" approach to his flagship news property.
*CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to clarify that Kasich appeared in at least 123 segments on Fox News. When Kasich guest-hosted The O'Reilly Factor, Media Matters counted each segment.
Put in the awkward position of reporting on its corporate owners, the GOP-friendly WSJ acknowledges today that News Corps recently donated $1 million to the conservative, pro-business Chamber of Commerce.
But look at how the Journal describes the organization:
While not an overtly partisan group, the Washington-based Chamber of Commerce is investing millions in support of GOP congressional candidates this year. In all, the camber says it plans to spend $75 million on the 2010 midterm elections.
Question: Has the chamber ever spent tens of millions to elect Democrats?
News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, said at a House subcommittee hearing recently that Fox News, which News Corp. owns, is not "anti-immigrant." In fact, Fox News routinely polarizes and degrades the debate over immigration issues with outright falsehoods, fearmongering, and outrageous rhetoric that is hostile to immigrants.
From the September 30 edition of MSNBC's Countdown:
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From a September 30 House subcommittee hearing on the Role of Immigration in Strengthening America's Economy:
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From a September 30 House subcommittee hearing on the Role of Immigration in Strengthening America's Economy:
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With conservative friends like this in the press, why would Republicans need enemies?
Attempting to take aim at the "liberal media," Rupert Murdoch's New York Post uncorked some friendly fire over the weekend, with an article headlined:
Liberal media goes on attack against GOP's Boehner
The lede [emphasis added]:
Liberal media outlets are trying to smear the highest-ranking Republican in the House just weeks before the midterm elections with a deal-breaking scandal before he has a chance to take the speaker's chair from Nancy Pelosi.
A blogger from liberal Web site The Daily Kos pierced through Boehner's security detail at yesterday's unveiling of his leadership policy "Pledge to America" to ask if he was sleeping with a lobbyist from the Printing Industries of America.
The congressman ignored the pesky blogger with a flip camera and kept moving to his fleet of black Suburbans.
That's right, the conservative newspaper plucked a Daily Kos blog post out of Internet obscurity and pushed the embarrassing John Boehner story front and center in a botched attempt to attack the liberal media. In other words, the Post did a huge favor to Daily Kos (and a huge disservice to the Republican Congressman) by shining a spotlight on a story that would have otherwise been ignored.
And here was the Post's second futile gotcha attempt:
Insiders on Capitol Hill are buzzing about an upcoming New York Times exposé that will detail an alleged Boehner affair. Sources say the Times is looking for the right time to drop the story in October to sway the election, similar to how the Times reported during the 2008 presidential campaign on an alleged John McCain affair that supposedly had taken place many years before and that was flatly denied by the woman in question.
Note the complete lack of sourcing for the claim about the Times' supposed nasty hit piece. (Anonymous "insiders"? Gimme a break.) This is just awful stuff. Or, it's the Post being the Post – hyper-partisan and painfully unprofessional.
The punch line here is that the only one who comes out looking bad is the Republican congressman. Should Daily Kos send Murdoch's Post a thank-you note?
UPDATED: Now the conservative Washington Examiner has gotten in on the act, with columnist Byron York also pushing the Boehner sex rumors in a bungled attempt to dissect the liberal media.
Of note for the Post newsroom, via York:
[T]here are no indications that the Times, despite its recent interest in Boehner, is working on a story about any alleged affair.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch donated $1,500 to California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman last week.
Murdoch's personal donation to Whitman's campaign follows News Corp.'s controversial $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association earlier this year.
Murdoch is no stranger to California politics, having made personal contributions totaling $1 million to the California Republican Party in 1996 -- reportedly among the largest ever made to the party at the time.
Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, has donated a record $119 million to her own campaign, which, according to the Associated Press, is more than "any other political candidate in American history."
The Chronicle added that "Fox News has been a favorite visiting spot for Whitman in the last year" and that a recently-released Fox News poll shows Whitman holds 6 point lead over Democratic candidate Jerry Brown.
In June, we noted that Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his Fox News Radio show that Whitman would defeat Brown because Brown has "got nothing to say" and "has not been relevant since the 80s."
Murdoch and his wife have also donated $20,000 to Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate -- and former Fox News host -- John Kasich. As we've documented, various Fox News personalities have fundraised for Kasich and promoted his campaign.
More proof today that Rupert Murdoch's Journal is morphing into a GOP bulletin board. The national daily inexplicably devotes an entire, 15-paragraph, double byline article to report the breaking news that conservative Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) won a straw poll vote at a right-wing gathering over the weekend, and heralding him as a possible 2012 White House contender [emphasis added]:
Mr. Pence, the third-ranking Republican in the House, won the "Values Voter" poll for the 2012 GOP nomination conducted by the Family Research Council Action, with 170, or 24% of votes.
An oil shale firm that reportedly plans to test drilling technology in western Colorado early next year now has the benefit of Rupert Murdoch's business acumen.
News Corporation founder and CEO Rupert Murdoch has joined the "Strategic Advisory Board" of Genie Energy Corporation and will "advise management on strategic, financial, operational and public policy matters related to Genie's shale oil ventures," including a "joint venture" "to develop oil shale on a federal leasehold in Northwestern Colorado," according to a September 14 press release from IDT Corporation, Genie Energy's parent company.
Genie Energy, according to the press release, "is currently comprised of IDT's interests in IDT Energy, American Shale Oil, LLC (AMSO), and Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI)."
On August 31, the Associated Press reported that American Shale Oil -- "[o]ne of three companies with federal leases to research and develop oil shale in Colorado" -- "said it plans to start testing its technology early next year." The AP noted that companies seeking to develop western Colorado's "abundant oil shale deposits" "are trying to find a way to economically extract the oil from shale, which requires heating it above ground after mining or in the ground," and that "[c]rtics say developing oil shale would consume too much water and harm the environment."
Last April, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of Fox News parent News Corp., said that he doesn't think Fox News "should be supporting the tea party, or any other party," despite the fact that Fox News had aggressively promoted the April 2009 tax day tea party protests and has continued to promote tea party events ever since.
Now Fox News' Bill O'Reilly says that Fox News' Glenn Beck is the leader of the tea party movement. In his new book, Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama, O'Reilly writes:
If Barack Obama thought the last few months of 2009 were rough, well, the opening weeks of 2010 made them look like a piece of chocolate layer cake. Ladies and gentlemen, let the Tea Parties begin!
Exasperated by record-breaking government spending and a confusing health care bill that the President could not explain, thousands of everyday Americans began publicly demonstrating against the perceived signs of 'socialism' and, in general, the liberal tendencies of the Obama administration.
Led by Fox News commentator and radio talk show host Glenn Beck, and featuring high-profile encouragement from Sarah Palin, the so-called Tea Party movement blasted into the national consciousness.
But it was largely the ugly attacks against this group that drew them further into the spotlight and kept them there for so long. [emphasis added]
For his part, Beck has identified Fox News and the tea party as the "only thing" slowing down president Obama's legislative agenda.
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?
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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.