Murdoch Doubles News Corp Support for Republicans

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

Murdoch Doubles News Corp Support for Republicans

News Corporation gives $1m to anti-Democrat campaign • Rupert Murdoch's second donation in run-up to elections

by
Ed Pilkington

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has doubled his support to the Republican party before the mid-term elections with a $1m donation to an anti-Democrat party interest group. (Photograph: Hyungwon Kang/REUTERS)

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation
has doubled its backing of the Republican party in advance of next
month's mid-term elections by awarding $1m to an interest group that is
leading the attack on Democratic candidates through political TV
advertising.

The donation, revealed first by the website Politico,
was made to the United States Chamber of Commerce, which has a stated
intention to spend $75m on November's elections. Most of its money has
gone into "attack adverts" targeted against Democratic candidates.

This is the second downpayment in three months by Murdoch to the Republican cause in its battle to give Barack Obama
a bloody nose in the 2 November elections to the Senate and House of
Representatives. In June, News Corporation gave $1m to the Republican
Governors Association.

That donation led to widespread criticism that Murdoch was blatantly in breach of journalistic ethics. His Fox News
channel claims to be "fair and balanced" in its reporting of political
races, yet when the association of Democratic governors called on the TV
channel to add a disclaimer to its coverage, revealing that its
proprietor was funding the Republicans, it made no such concession.

The
latest donation is likely to rekindle the debate about Murdoch's
influence on the American political process. Fox News has frequently
come under scrutiny for the unashamedly slanted nature of much of its
coverage, particularly through commentators such as the Tea
Party-backing Glenn Beck.

The dispute has reached as far as the
White House. Obama told Rolling Stone magazine this week that in his
opinion Fox News had "a point of view that I think is ultimately
destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant
middle class and is competitive in the world".

News Corporation
has consistently denied a political motive in its sponsorship of
interest groups. It claims instead to be backing a "pro-business"
stance.

But a survey by the Wesleyan Media Project shows that of
interest groups buying political advertising for the US Senate and House
races since January, Murdoch has given large sums to two of the three
highest spenders.

The Republican Governors Association is the
biggest spender, having lent support to Republican candidates with more
than 19,000 adverts at a cost of $12m.

The US Chamber of Commerce,
recipient of the latest News Corporation donation, had the
third-largest spend, having invested $7m since January on more than
8,000 adverts backing Republican candidates.

Murdoch's decision to
swing his vast financial resources – the latest Forbes rich list put
his wealth at $6.2bn – behind the Republicans this year is more likely
to be an indication of where he thinks the political wind is blowing
than an ideological statement. His track record has been to follow
probable election winners, rather than to make policy judgments.

In
the UK, he switched from consistent Conservative support to back Tony
Blair's Labour in the run-up to the 1997 general election.

In
recent times in the US, he has expressed his admiration for Obama, who
he called a "rock star", though his main news outlets, Fox News, the
Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, all came out for Republican
candidate John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

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