This is something I have been wondering about too:
Ben Smith reports that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, after having donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, has also donated to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a pro-Republican business lobby.
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.
Turns out there is a simple answer as to why Murdoch did this (warning Politico link, but this is good reporting, regardless):
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.
Stories like make me wonder how much of what businesses do to control the political process remains secret. It’s telling that Tom Friedman is thrilled that millionaires on both coasts are plotting to form a new party.
So, Rupert is getting nervous enough to throw some coin into the game (secretly, natch, till he got caught). And on the front page of the New York Times today, Republicans are moving away from their “inevitable victory” gambit and into a “gotta work for it” mode. Happy days? Well, maybe …
They thought the donations, to registered PACs would remain secret? Don’t these organizations have to report all donations to the FEC? And don’t publicly traded corporations have to disclose political contributions to the SEC? If so, on either point, I’m guessing this is just another “the rules only apply to little people, not us” scenario
The next to last samurai
My guess is most fox viewers will never know about this. Who is going to tell them? Rush? Hannity? Beck?
Karl was right.
@The next to last samurai: even if they were told, they wouldn’t care. Free speech, bitches!
@The next to last samurai:
I suspect that it’s not their own viewers they’re most worried about. Viewers who genuinely believe the “Fair and Balanced” line are such suckers that they’re not going to see anything wrong with this. It’s their competitors who are really going to run with it, and there’s a chance that this will be sufficiently embarrassing that it might get something like the DISCLOSE Act passed.
@The next to last samurai:
Fox viewers don’t care. They watch it because it is biased.
For people who haven’t already figured out that Fox “News” is simply a propaganda arm of the Republican party, I doubt that these donations will make any difference. Plainly such people have only a tenuous grasp on reality.
For the rest of us, the donations simply confirm what is already obvious.
Will any of the other major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) care about this? I’m sure that the late afternoon / evening programming on MSNBC.
The upshot is that the GOP and the CofC now have extra cash to spend on smear commercials. I wonder which TV stations will be getting the bulk of that money? FOX stations in red states?
Uncle Rupie was just laundering money to his own outfits through the GOP & the CofC.
I’d like to go Friedman one better. Not only do we need a third party, but how about a third branch of congress? Tricameralism if you will. This body, which would be appointed–for life–by, and possibly include, Tom Friedman and David Broder, would consist mainly of wise, public-spirited billionaires, ‘above party’, the class to whom, if we were only capable of realizing it, we owe everything. Its powers, well I’m not sure what they should be, but perhaps the decision should be left in the hands of its members, who know so much more and are so much better intentioned than the rest of us. (I can already picture the movie, alas Edward Arnold can no longer be cast in the part of the wisest and most benevolent of the kindly far-seeing billionaires.)
Surely our problems would soon be a thing of the past.
FOX News is an important link in that chain that would bind America to a permanent republican majority.
FOX does care about the bad publicity, but it’s too late to really care, FOX is totally bought and paid for already.
DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.
I like this idea.
Donald Duck discovers Glenn Beck h/t Ebert.
Okay, I know that this is supposed to be a big deal, but I’m not seeing it.
NBC is owned by GE (mostly now, Vivendi also has a partial share). GE is a member of the US Chamber of Commerce. GE is also a major defense contractor. Arguably, that makes the GE/NBC combo a worse offender than what News Corp is doing, since GE is both giving money to political candidates and making money off of direct government procurement of military hardware.
It seems like it’s worse with News Corp because there’s no illusion that there’s a barrier between the corporate activities of News Corp and the editorial actions of Fox News. But I think that barrier between GE/NBC is equally illusory – less so now than in the past perhaps (because GE/NBC now have a shareholder relationship instead of a direct boss relationship), but still an illusion.
Is this just a question of News Corp actively doing something that violates the narrative of “unbiased media” in a way that is somehow worse than their actual propaganda network, or am I missing something bigger here? Because I’m not quite getting what is worse about what News Corp is doing here than what GE has done they founded NBC as far as the political donations and lobbying stuff goes.
I feel like I’m missing about half this story and I was wondering if the story was just being pushed because it’s anti-Fox News. But then that stupid update from Ben Smith where his source said that News Corp thought it would be kept secret makes me think that even News Corp knows there’s a difference here between how the usual suspects play the game and I’m just not seeing it.
DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.
I see what you’re saying, but I also think that if GE gave a million dollars to the RGA and none to any corresponding Democratic groups, that would get some attention too.
Well, if it will get those damned millionaires off unemployment …
1. magnitude of donations
2. NBC isn’t the propoganda arm of either party.
@Nellcote and @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:
Yeah, I guess I see what you’re saying. It is more “in your face” than the typical donations you might expect. And Fox is already facing off against a reputation for being an extension of the GOP, so this plays into that narrative perfectly. Whereas GE buys candidates to support it on both sides of the aisle, making it tougher to criticize – they may be working for GE, but GE isn’t also demanding that they swear fealty to the Tea Party.
Still, it almost feels like the problem is one of degree rather than action. If News Corp had donated 100K instead of a million, would it have been an issue? I think it should be, but then I think any corporation (as opposed to an individual) who donates even a $1 to a campaign is a problem. But that puts me outside the mainstream and makes me a dirty hippie from what I can tell, so I’m not sure where this story is going to go. It seems like it will still be hard for the rest of the media to criticize when their own parent companies are doing something similar and the distinctions need to be explained.
Bullshit. The fact that one of NBC’s subsidiary news organizations (MSNBC) graciously permits semi-liberals to host shows for two hours a day — so long as they (a) have good ratings and are profitable and (b) do not undermine the perpetual war that feeds GE’s coffers — does not cancel out NBC’s transparent and systemic bias in favor of the Right. Need I remind you that MSNBC also once canceled its highest rated show because Phil Donahue wasn’t sufficiently pro-war? Or that MSNBC (the liberal network) currently runs a former Republican congressman for three hours a day?
When MSNBC hires an ex-Democratic congressman to rail against the Republicans as much as “Morning Joe” has against Dems, you be sure and let me know.
Why did they think they wouldn’t have to disclose this? I thought the disclosure requirements were about the only thing Citizens United didn’t gut.
I’m not about to tell you NBC is better than FOX, except that NBC’s right wing bias is more subtle
Of course they knew they had to disclose it, but who cares? it’s not like people are going to actually KNOW. Who’s going to tell them? Fox?
Amanda in the South Bay
I don’t see how they thought they could keep this secret; that speaks volumes as to the ineptitude and incompetence of our billionaire ruling classes. I guess being rich doesn’t mean you are smart or competent?
And the wingnuts thought the Big Government Takeover™ of healthcare by Obamacare was bad, just wait until the Big Government Takeover™ of the MSM by President Friedman. Eeek. Badly-written handjobs to the deserving wealthy as required reading every day, direct from the oval office no less… weekly fireside chats with Charlie Rose… agghhhh!
Hmm.. I think we can assume that NewsCorpse is fully aware of exactly what they can and can’t get away with from a disclosure standpoint. (I’m NOT saying what’s legal or not legal, I’m saying what they think they can get away with.) That they should be surprised when they got caught suggests that there are others (GE/NBC, and well let’s face it, all of the media corps) who might STILL be getting away with it.
Perhaps someone here can fill me in because I didn’t follow the original story — how exactly DID NewsCorpse get caught?
Related, I wonder which high-income donors NOM is trying to protect as it goes around the country challenging laws requiring disclosure of donations? (ME, WA, IA, MN, RI so far)
The donation to the RGA came to light because News Corp and their donation amount was listed in the disclosure statement to the FEC. As is required by law. AFAIK, the Chamber of Commerce story was broken by Politico from a “source close to” News Corp. Which makes me wonder if there are disclosure statements that are going to be published soon and News Corp wanted to get it out there on a weekend so it would be “old news” by Monday, so they called up Ben and fed him the story.
Thinking about it more, the only excuse I can come up with from the News Corp people thinking it would be kept “secret” is that they didn’t think anyone else in the media would report on it, so it would be an open secret. That would mean that the News Corp guys would have to believe that this was an “everybody’s doing it so no one will talk about it” situation. That’s the only way that their belief it would be “kept secret” could possibly be justified.
This money may as well be rebates for these organizations advertising on local Fox affliates, the equivalent of bulk orders driving the latest Regnery Books screed up the NY Times bestseller list. Because that’s the way I see these donations, I don’t understand how Fox can get away with these rebates that they aren’t offering the Democrats and left-leaning organizations.
ETA: I’m beginning to consider that perhaps News Corp. is less a propaganda arm of the Republican Party than the Republican Party is the power-wielding arm of News Corp.
Is it possible that the Fox contributions suggest some internal numbers that aren’t nearly as positive as the themes trumpeted by the Fox Noise machine? As Noble suggests above, Fox can figure they get back half of the money in advertising spend. Any way you look at it the amount of corporate money going into politics is at an all time high thanks to the Supremes. They gave us Bush and they keep on giving. The only viable answer is to go and vote. As my old political science professor used to say, vote early and vote often. I think he meant just vote once in each election.
You have to listen to this week’s On The Media, which has a far more scary story of political interference by Fox: Fox is suing to prevent the Carnahan campaign from using in its advertising a clip from Fox of Chris Wallace calling out Roy Blunt, citing copyright infringement and also citing some version of slander (essentially saying that Fox will be harmed if people seeing the ad conclude Fox can air bad things about Republicans).
I happen to think that the way Fox serves as a propaganda engine is far scarier and more effective than the few millions of cash they give to Republicans, but even so this attempt to say their ideological foes mayn’t use a clip from Fox that bolsters their case is a new and dangerous development.
P.S. On The Media also has a good piece this week about the interesting questions raised by Fox currently employing three of the likely Republican Presidential candidates (Palin, Gingrich, and Huckabee).
Please. Nobody with half a brain who pays attention thinks Fox has any sort of “mask of objectivity.” People who agree with them are happy to hear reinforcement of their ideas and views. But, I doubt they bother to consider any “mask of objectivity.” Those of us who do not agree with the Foxline never saw a mask of objectivity. And, even if there were this mythical mask, the news is filled with daily examples of politicians simply lying – in the face of video and audio evidence – about all manner of things. And the price of lying is not very high. The more brazen the lie (see Palin and bridge to nowhere), the more your followers seem to cheer your “audacity.” Nothing shocks me. People do not need to cover up their shenanigans; there are no consequences of significance to them for being out in the open.
You sound so surprised. Think of GM. Think of the tobacco industry before they lost huge lawsuits. Think of big pharma. It’s an iceberg; 9/10s is below the waterline.
@NonyNony: NBC/Universal only accounts for 9.8% of GE income, and only 12% of its profit. That includes the movie studio, the theme parks, and both the broadcast (NBC) and cable outlets, including :
Conflating corporate checks directly from NewsCorp to the GOP and the Chamber of Commerce is in no way similar to anything GE does through it’s employee PAC.; so there is no FOX / MSNBC false equivalency here.
Speaking of the Rich, check out Frank Rich’s latest column on O’Donnell.
He notes that a TeaParty (TM) group received a donation of $1,000,000,000 from a donor whose name they won’t release.
Hmm a round million. Remind you of anything ? Can you convince yourself to doubt that this donor is named Murdoch ?
Canard watch – Donahue’s show was the highest-rated on the channel, but because it had an audience it was also a hell of a lot more expensive to produce. His ratings weren’t that much higher, at least not enough to cover the difference in cost, so out he went. Would they have carried him longer if we had been pro-war? Who knows, but the actual events made business sense.
I know the conspiracy theory is more fun, and the “Morning Joe” thing is a great point.
Kinda like the proposition that it wouldn’t be surprising if the NRA was entirely a creature of the gun manufacturers?
But your figure says a round billion, which I assume is a typo…
Well, obviously they would contribute the money because they want a GOP House because the nonsense batshit investigations will be a windfall for FOX.
I was surprised to see that newscorp was ‘surprised’. I thought for sure the punchline was going to be that the publicity wouldn’t matter; the right could just ‘explain’ the donation, using their usual Jedi mind tricks:
There was no such donation. Even if there was, don’t forget that FDR was a racist anti-semite & that liberalism causes warts & divorce. This money serves only to return balance to the force.
What the fuck? Two weren’t enough?
Can’t Mark Zuckerberg get involved here on our side for the sake of our democracy? (When that happens, the Supreme Court will see the error of Citizens United).
I suspect they weighed what could be done with the money (all starry-eyed and tremble-lipped with excitement, bringing in the next robber-baron golden age) and weighed the chances of their real clientelle of suckers catching on, and said, “Fuck, let’s do it!”, don’t you?