A couple of recent revelations regarding the charitable proclivities of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp are now raising chilling questions for which there has been no answer to date.
It was widely reported a few weeks ago that News Corp made a $1 million donation to the Republican Governor’s Association. Reaction to that report was swift and damning. The notion that News Corp, parent company of Fox News, is bankrolling the campaigns of people they are also purporting to cover in their newspapers and on their TV networks, is appalling and unprecedented. To make matters worse, Fox continues to give positively biased coverage to GOP candidates without disclosing their contributions.
Last week another story emerged that revealed another $1 million contribution by News Corp, this time to the pro-GOP US Chamber of Commerce. This has the same potential for conflict of interest as the gift to the GOP governors and, again, Fox puts a muzzle on its reporters to suppress the story.
Now Ben Smith at Politico reports what may be the worst part of this scandal of all. Responding to a query as to why News Corp would make these donations that overtly contradict their claims to fairness and balance, and further damage their already mutilated journalistic credibility, Smith reports that…
“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.”
That explains a lot. If Murdoch never believed that these donations would become public he would have no reason to be concerned about the blowback. But what is even more troubling is this: If Murdoch made these donations with the expectation that they would be kept secret, what other donations might he have made whose secrecy has actually been preserved?
Could Murdoch have contributed to the Tea Party Express or other AstroTurfers like FreedomWorks? Could he be bankrolling the operations of Sarah Palin’s PAC or Glenn Beck’s Holy Rollover Revue? Since the Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme Court earlier this year, the ability of corporations to sink unlimited resources into politics has been greatly enhanced. It created an open door for multinational corporations to influence American elections
Murdoch’s business connections have deep roots in many financial and political matters around the world. He is closely tied with Saudi oil and media barons and billionaires like Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. Alwaleed is a backer of the Park51 project to build a Muslim community center a couple of blocks from ground zero in Lower Manhattan.
What other Muslim initiatives might Murdoch be connected to? Could he have an interest in the affairs of Al Qaeda? There is presently reporting on Fox News about the escalated terror alerts in Europe. Murdoch could be seen as being a beneficiary of this because it could reflect badly on President Obama’s national security policies. And Murdoch is always happy to see this President in decline. What contributions might he have made to bring about this or any other event that accrues to his benefit?
Seriously, the problem here is that we have no way of knowing what sort of enterprises Murdoch (or any other corporate baron) is financing. If we only find out by accident, there is a very real prospect that there are far worse things that have not yet been revealed. And the new legal interpretations make it harder, if not impossible, to acquire this information.
Is Rupert Murdoch funding Al Qaeda. Probably not. But that’s not the point. Who is he funding (besides the GOP governors and the Chamber of Commerce) that is still being kept secret from us? His scope of influence, due to his position and wealth, makes him a significant figure on the political landscape. The fact that he runs an international media empire makes his political contributions relevant to his readers and viewers. And the fact that he is making donations that he presumed would be secret suggests that he may have made others that still are.
Murdoch needs to either come clean about his political largesse or stop making contributions altogether. He cannot operate a media enterprise that he asserts is unbiased without greater transparency, especially in light of what has become known already. And the rest of the media must stop treating Fox News and other News Corp operations as if they were legitimate journalists. Fox News is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. Their partisan reporting has made that more than clear, and their financial activities prove it again and again.