There has lately been an excess of rage expressed over a couple of charitable donations by George Soros. Both NPR and Media Matters were beneficiaries of Soros’ generosity. These are both media-related entities that play no direct role in politics.
But the same rightist critics of donations don’t seem to have any problem with Rupert Murdoch giving millions of dollars to overtly political enterprises: the Republican Governor’s Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That money is used to buy ads against Democrats on Fox News, so the money Murdoch donated ends up right back in his pocket. And another big difference in these donations is that Soros was open and honest about announcing his largesse, while Murdoch gave in secret and even remarked that he had anticipated that his donations would remain secret.
A fair observer would have to wonder why the munificence of Soros is problematic but the fact that Right-wingers are just as generous to their ideological allies isn’t worthy of discussion. They will never mention, for instance, that uber-rightist Richard Mellon Scaife has given millions to the conservative Media Research Center (which runs several right-wing operations like NewsBusters). And while Soros remains outside of the organizations to which he contributes, Murdoch has moved inside as a board member of the Associated Press.
The hypocrisy demonstrated by the right is world-class. While the left is taking heat for being totally transparent, the right takes pride in enforcing silence about its clandestine activities. Since they have admitted that they aspire to fund their friends in secret, we have no way of knowing what other donations have been made by folks like Murdoch and his billionaire comrades. Murdoch confessed that he gave the RGA money due to his friendship with John Kasich, a candidate for governor in Ohio and a former employee of Fox News. Karl Rove is presently an employee of Fox News. Is he also receiving financing from Murdoch? We don’t know because they are not required to disclose it and they keep it obsessively private.
What we do know is that Fox News has a record of shilling for the right. Their daytime anchor Jon Scott (who, ironically, is also the host of their Fox News Watch) once read an RNC document on the air as if it were his own research. He even displayed a graphic on screen that contained the same typo that was in the original RNC memo.
We also know that Fox News relies heavily on the work of the Media Research Center and NewsBusters. We know this because their top news anchor at the time, Brit Hume, said so in public:
Hume: I want to say a word, however, of thanks to Brent and the team at the Media Research Center […] for the tremendous amount of material that the Media Research Center provided me for so many years when I was anchoring Special Report, I don’t know what we would’ve done without them. It was a daily buffet of material to work from, and we certainly made tremendous use of it.
The left has nothing to compare with the media domination of the right. Only the right has their own cable news network. They rule talk radio in part because of conservative broadcasters who deliberately shut out liberal programming. Independent studies show that even the supposedly liberal segments of the press actually lean more to the right in their editorial positions, their guests and sources, and their staffing.
So it seems curious that all of sudden we have right-wingers going bonkers over a couple of donations that will certainly help those organizations, but will have little impact on the broader media landscape. It just proves that the right is focused on maintaining their competitive advantage, that they know the value of “working the refs,” and that they have no shame when it comes to acting out their hypocrisy.