Wash. Examiner tries to spin away News Corp. RGA donation with apples to oranges comparisons

The Washington Examiner brings us the right-wing media's latest attempt to spin away News Corp.'s $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association by absurdly comparing CBS, NBC, and ABC employees' 2008 campaign donations with News Corp.'s donation to the RGA. Shockingly, it found that President Obama and Democratic campaign committees received more cash than their Republican counterparts.

This analysis falls flat for numerous reasons. 1) Donations by a company's employees and the donations of a corporation itself are not comparable. 2) Simply searching donations by those who identified themselves as employees of NBC, CBS, and ABC will quite naturally include numerous employees who have absolutely nothing to do with producing the networks' news. 3) 2008 was a historic year with regards to campaign fundraising, as Obama broke every campaign fundraising record on the books. Therefore, it is completely unsurprising that Obama and Democrats received more money than John McCain and Republicans.

The Examiner looked at the campaign contributions of "[s]enior executives, on-air personalities, producers, reporters, editors, writers and other self-identifying employees of ABC, CBS and NBC" and concluded that these people, “contributed more than $1 million to Democratic candidates and campaign committees in 2008.” By comparison, the same group “contributed to Republican candidates and campaign committees ... a total of $142,863.”

The first problem with the Examiner's “study” is its search parameters. Simply searching for everyone who identifies themselves as being an employee of ABC, CBS, or NBC would include numerous employees who have absolutely nothing to do with the news. For instance, if you search Open Secrets for NBC employees who donated to Obama's campaign, you get a bevy of NBC Universal TV writers, animators, Web developers, lawyers, executive assistants, sales managers, accountants, stagehands, recruiters, video editors, sports producers, human resources officials, actors, and even a couple of game-show contestants. In short, not a whole heck of a lot of people who are actually involved with the organization's news content and reporting, unless Law & Order's Samuel Waterson is suddenly dictating Brian Williams' news copy. The same goes for ABC and CBS. Incidentally, the Examiner singles out a donation from Seth Davis, whom they identify as a “CBS 'journalist,' ” for scrutiny. However, Davis is a CBS Sports contributor who serves as a college basketball analyst. I'm sure his pro-Obama bias really clouds his reporting on that issue.

Secondly, individual donations are not the same as a donation from a corporation. Try as they might, an NBC game-show contestant's personal campaign donation is not the same as News Corp. giving a million dollars to Republicans, while giving virtually nothing to Democrats. The American Thinker recently tried a similar tack, gleefully exposing that MSNBC's “Parent Company Has Given Democrats $1.1 Million in 2010 Cycle.” Of course, MSNBC's “parent company” is GE, which is one of the largest, most diverse companies in the world, and it also gave a comparable chunk of change to Republicans. And the right-wing media previously attempted to smear Obama as beholden to BP by suggesting that Obama received the most money of any candidate from BP, when, in fact, the donations they cited came from BP employees, not BP itself.

Third, 2008 was historic in terms of campaign fundraising. Obama raised far more money than any other candidate ever has; therefore, it is completely unsurprising that Obama also received the most amount of money from ABC, NBC, and CBS employees. I'm sure that the same could be true if you looked at individual employees' contributions at virtually any major corporation.

The right-wing media should stop bending over backward to explain away News Corp.'s eye-popping RGA donation. The fact is, there is no comparable donation from another major media corporation, and the more the right wing strains the find one, the sillier it looks.