John Edwards Not Playing Rupert Murdoch’s Monopoly

John Edwards isn’t shy about letting Rupert Murdoch know how he feels. When asked a question about media consolidation at a recent campaign stop, Edwards said:

“I am not particularly interested in seeing Rupert Murdoch own every newspaper in America.”

Nicely done, John. This answer responds directly to the heart of the question and points an incriminating finger at the industry’s worst offender.

Edwards continues to solidify his position as the candidate most committed to media reform and supportive of efforts to rollback consolidation. He has spoken out on many occasions on the need for independence and diversity in the press and he has been a leading voice of opposition to the FCC’s policy of weakening regulations on ownership caps. He was also the first candidate to refuse to participate in Fox News-sponsored primary debates.

But every time Edwards takes a principled stand, the pundidiots can’t help but crack-wise at Edwards expense. In the item linked above, James Pindell of the Boston Globe follows the Edwards quote with this bit of irrelevancy:

“It should be noted that Edwards received nearly $800,000 in a book contract from one of Murdoch’s companies, HarperCollins.”

Why, pray tell, should that be noted? It is not a political contribution or evidence of electoral support. It is a payment for publishing rights to an author from a book publisher. It is the free market at work. And if anything is notable about it, it is that Edwards will act on his principles even if it is contrary to the interests of corporations who lay out big bucks to do business with him. In other words, they can’t buy him.

This isn’t the first time this canard has been raised. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post felt it necessary to note the same book deal after Edwards called on his opponents to refuse donations from Murdoch. Never mind that he was not admonishing them to refrain from doing business with News Corp., just from accepting the sort political funding that can be seen as buying influence. And lest anyone think that the book advance in itself has purchased any slice of Edwards’ soul, just look to these statements for proof that his independence and integrity is in tact:

“High levels of media consolidation threaten free speech, they tilt the public dialogue towards corporate priorities and away from local concerns, and they make it increasingly difficult for women and people of color to own meaningful stakes in our nation’s media.”

“It’s time for all Democrats, including those running for president, to stand up and speak out against this [News Corp./Dow Jones] merger and other forms of media consolidation.”

“The basis of a strong democracy begins and ends with a strong, unbiased and fair media – all qualities which are pretty hard to subscribe to Fox News and News Corp.”

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton’s qualifying remarks following a rather commendable statement against media consolidation:

“I’m not saying anything against any company in particular. I just want to see more competition, especially in the same markets.”

While Clinton takes pains to soften the blow against her Foxic benefactor, Edwards comes right out and says what he thinks. For this he is often tagged in the press as a phony. That is the same characterization they make of him when he advocates for the poor – something the media apparently believes rich folks should never do. And for his trouble he is ganged up on by sanctimonious pundits that would rather point a finger at targets of their imagined hypocrisy than left a finger to help those less fortunate.

If you’re paying attention it’s easy to see who the phonies really are.