Media Matters: Saving the country, Murdoch-style

At the annual News Corp. shareholders meeting in New York this morning, CEO Rupert Murdoch was forced to answer a battery of questions from frustrated shareholders regarding the company's controversial contributions of $1 million to both the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Asked to explain the reasoning behind the contributions, Murdoch said they were made “in the interest of the country and of all the shareholders ... that there be a fair amount of change in Washington.”

According to Murdoch, the donations, while “unusual,” had “nothing to do with the editorial policies” of News Corp.'s media properties. He also brushed off his widely reported comment that News Corp.'s donation to the RGA was a result of his friendship with former Fox News employee and current GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, calling it a “throwaway line.”

However, Sir Rod Eddington, chairman of the audit committee, did tell a representative from the Nathan Cummings Foundation -- which sent a letter to the board of directors earlier this week calling for full disclosure of News Corp.'s political contributions -- that the foundation's proposal would be reviewed and that News Corp. would “act expeditiously.”

Whether or not a disclosure policy is actually implemented, Murdoch made one thing clear: Shareholders will not select recipients of donations. If shareholders disagreed with directors' decisions, Murdoch said, “you have the right to vote us off the board.”

Fox News: “simply unstoppable”

Murdoch may not agree with everything that's said on Fox News or know who exactly is advertising on Beck these days, but there is one thing he does know: Fox News is “simply unstoppable.”

In his letter to shareholders this year, Murdoch wrote: “The Cable Network Programming segment was again our biggest growth driver. In 2010, operating income increased 37% over the prior year to a record $2.3 billion. All major networks showed impressive growth and, in the U.S., the FOX News Channel is simply unstoppable. FNC led the increase in affiliate revenue growth and outperformed CNN, MSNBC and CNBC combined in total viewers, for both prime time and total day categories.”

In 2010, Fox News' revenues increased 23 percent from 2009.

Now, admittedly, 2009 was a rough year for News Corp. Overall, the company's revenues decreased 8 percent, and according to Murdoch, it was “among the most challenging in our Company's 56-year history.”

Yet there was a bright spot. In 2009, Fox News' revenues increased 26 percent from 2008.

In 2008, Fox News' revenues increased 21 percent from 2007.

In 2007, Fox News' revenues increased 19 percent from 2006.

In 2006, Fox News' revenues increased 13 percent from 2005.

In 2005, Fox News' revenues increased 20 percent from 2004.

You get the picture. Rupert Murdoch is cashing in big on hate and lies.

Beck's big Chamber bailout

This week, Fox News host Glenn Beck joined News Corp. as a major backer of the Chamber of Commerce: Beck's call for donations to the Chamber on the October 14 edition of his radio show earned him on-air praise from the group's top brass and drove so much traffic to the Chamber's contribution website that it crashed.

Apparently an adherent of the view that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” so-called populist warrior Beck implored his audience to fork over their hard-earned cash to corporate darling Chamber of Commerce, "just because the Obama administration hates them."

(The White House's request that the Chamber disclose its anonymous campaign donors evidently qualifies as “hating” them.)

“I don't agree with everything the Chamber does,” Beck said, citing the Chamber's pro-immigration reform position, but that hardly hampered his newfound solidarity.

Any reservations anti-TARP, anti-stimulus Beck may have had about the pro-TARP, pro-stimulus Chamber were tossed aside. Declaring the Chamber “our parents, our grandparents -- they are us,” Beck ponied up $10,000 and told his listeners, “I would like to make this the biggest fundraising day in the Chamber's history.”

Bruce Josten, the Chamber's executive vice president for government affairs, even went on Beck's show that day to thank Beck personally for his efforts. “Glenn, just so you know, as a result of you,” Josten said, "[our website has had] the single highest contribution we've ever received for an entire day, and that's just for the first hour."

Indeed, a Chamber official later told Politico: “I don't have exact numbers, because money is continuing to pour in. It even crashed our servers. The phones blew up today -- people were calling all day long. Bottom line: Today was the single largest day of online fundraising that we have ever had in the history of the Chamber.”

Rupert Murdoch's other speech

Murdoch gave another speech in New York this week. Two days before he spoke to News Corp. shareholders, he stood before the Anti-Defamation League and said: “Today it seems that the most virulent strains” of anti-Semitism “come from the left.”

There was no acknowledgment that his own Fox News personalities have a history of promoting anti-Semitic sources and mainstreaming people who have associations with anti-Semitic groups.

Last week, we pointed out that "[o]ver the past few months, several anti-Semitic authors and theories have popped up in Glenn Beck's TV and radio monologues, and Beck's audience of millions is, unwittingly or not, being exposed to some of the most hateful rhetoric of the last century."

And according to the Anti-Defamation League, Beck historian and frequent Glenn Beck guest David Barton has spoken at events hosted by the Christian Identity movement, which “asserts that Jews are 'the synagogue of Satan'; that Blacks and other people of color are subhuman; and that northern European whites and their American descendants are the 'chosen people' of scriptural prophesy.”

That's Murdoch's Fox News: simply unstoppable.