Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 2, 2010

ARE THERE DONATIONS WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT?.... In light of News Corp's seven-figure contributions to Republican campaign efforts this year, Jon Chait asks a good question: why would the media giant bother?

This makes zero sense to me. The value of News Corp to the Republican party is massive. It's worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Why also give money to Republicans? By openly donating to the party, you help tear away the mask of objectivity, thereby reducing your own value as a propaganda outlet. It seems like a bad move both for Fox and the GOP. (If I'm the Republicans, I'd rather have Fox retain a more plausible claim of objectivity.) And if you're Fox, you're obviously making a joke out of your "Fair and Balanced" mantra.

To be sure, the mantra was a joke anyway, but now the ability to even keep up appearances, maintaining an already-thin pretense, is practically gone.

So why take the risk? Because, as Ben Smith noted, News Corp probably didn't necessarily know it was taking a risk.

One possible answer: A person close to News Corp. told me this week the company didn't realize its $1 million to the RGA would become public. And the $1 million to Chamber of Commerce was supposed to be secret as well.

Right. In 2010, corporate campaign disclosure requirements are practically non-existent, so it's very likely that (a) News Corp wanted to advance its political agenda by investing in Republican campaign strategies; and (b) we wouldn't know.

I suppose it's worth asking, then, whether there are other major News Corp political contributions that we still don't know about. Karl Rove, for example, in addition to picking up a generous paycheck from News Corp, is also helping spearhead a massive campaign operation this year, raising tens of millions of dollars in undisclosed donations from wealthy benefactors. Is it possible Rove gave Rupert Murdoch and/or Roger Ailes a call, asking for a check? Or how about "Americans for Prosperity"? Or any of the other right-wing groups raising money in secret to finance attack ads against Democrats?

It's likely we'll never know, but it hardly seems like a stretch to think News Corp has cut more than two seven-figure checks to boost the GOP this year.

Steve Benen 9:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (10)

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The anger and resentment being fossilised by these lithe dinosaurs of the right will burn very brightly when it is learned how to effectively mine them .

Posted by: FRP on October 2, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

That also seems to me the most likely explanation to the conundrum Chait poses. But I'd add that we are now clearly in a period of upset presumptions and violated standards.

There is the Fox operation which really has no precedent in TV "news" being not news but propaganda (no other term is more appropriate or accurate).

Or, there is the new model of candidate/press interface where the necessity and validity of such an interface is denied - "I won't be doing any further interviews". Along with this, the refusal in so many cases (eg Brewer) to engage in open and public debates with opponents. One can see this is an evolution of the conservative PR operations over the last ten years which held Bush and others in a protected bubble of conservatives-only "townhalls" etc but we are clearly at a new level of politics-as-product-marketing now.

Posted by: Bernie Latham on October 2, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Logical enough to me.

I imagine they wanted it to be known that contributions are being made, but not the full details.

Fear. Uncertainty. Dread.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on October 2, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how much of that money comes back to FOX?
Most of the money spent will be used for advertising. On FOX affiliates nationwide there are local ad slots that candidates can buy, whether it's on a local or state wide level, so some of the money will end up back in FOX's pockets.
And, since a lot of Senate candidates now won't go on anything BUT FOX NEWS, that network gets added viewers from each state when people want to hear what a candidate has to say, since that candidate either won't appear on another channel, or debate, or both. Whether the viewer's a Republican or Democrat, FOX has ensured that it is the network that people have to turn to in order to hear a particular Republican candidate.
So, it's kind of a win/win. They send money, make some of it back, and can affect elections all over the country.
It' not "Fair and Balanced."
It's "Sick and Twisted."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 2, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

In the ideal world, Fox would pay a penalty for this blatant transgression away from any semblance of objective news reporting, but reality dictates otherwise.

Fox does so well as a cable and broadcast news organization BECAUSE they openly support Republicans. In an era when Americans actively seek information that supports their own preconceived ideas, Fox has cornered the market for conservatives and its ratings have exploded as a result.

People already know that it's not "Fair and Balanced", but that's the whole reason they flock religiously to the channel night after night, especially when even the lies make the world a happier place to live for a conservative.

To sum up: What we seek to criticize, they see as a virtue, and are getting money hand over fist while doing it.

Posted by: Kiweagle on October 2, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Michael Moore is right: only indictments will wake people up.

Posted by: Bob M on October 2, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry folks, I don't think that they cared whether or not it was made public. The folks who support Fox's drivel either don't know about the donations or don't care. This is true across the board for all of the big money men (Koch,etc.) behind the conservative 'movement.'

The masses who vote for the clown roll that is the Republican ticket this year do not patronize media that publicizes this sort of thing, and the 'MMS' is doing little to help.

Posted by: b'son on October 2, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't it time for our free press to do some real investigative journalism and start ferreting out all of the corporations and wealthy individuals who are pouring in huge amounts of money to sway this election, thanks to the Supreme Court's decisions? The Republicans think they will pay no price for reaping this windfall, thanks to the Senate GOP's fillibuster of the Disclose Act. While these groups aren't legally required to disclose their donors, there is nothing preventing real reporters from digging it out and telling the public, is there? Of course, it would mean doing something harder than more lazy "horse race" journalism featuring the Tea Party, the enthusiasm gap, quotes from ill-informed citizens, and endless parroting of the conventional wisdom that makes up the overwhelming majority of so-called political reporting these days.

Posted by: Eric R on October 2, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I just note that in his latest column
http://tinyurl.com/2w3z38v Frank Rich wrote

"Last week the same Tea Party Patriots leader who bragged to the National Journal about all those small donations announced a $1 million gift from a man she would identify only as an entrepreneur."

Further down he wrote "Rupert Murdoch (No. 38) and his News Corporation, whose known cash contributions ($2 million to Republican and Republican-tilting campaign groups)"

I'd say it's pretty clear what he has in mind. Murdoch should have donated slightly different amounts to the RGA and the NCC.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on October 3, 2010 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

This is hardly a scandal to the Fox Faithful. Quite the contrary -- it just confirms how serious Murdoch is about Fox's "fair and balanced" approach to countering the "Liberal Media." Think about it from the perspective of someone who actually believes that the MSM slants left. To them, it's just Murdoch putting his money where his mouth is.

Posted by: idlemind on October 3, 2010 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK



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