The News Corp. contribution to the GOP

Last night at the dinner table my wife was reading The Wall Street Journal, and on the side toward me I noticed the headline, “News Corp. Gives $1 Million to GOP.” Personally, I wasn’t interested enough to read the story (I’d already seen stuff about it earlier in the day), but I was curious about one thing — what page was I looking at? In other words, how far back in the paper would the WSJ, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., play the story.

It was page A4, she told me. OK, fine. I filed that away and went back to my dinner.

But I was reminded of it this morning when I saw these two Tweets from Jason Zacher:

So if GE (NBC), Disney (ABC), and Viacom (CBS) give tons of political money with no headlines, why do we care about Murdoch’s donation?about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

OH! That’s right. It’s because the rest of the media hates FoxNews for being #1.about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck

To that, I had to respond, “Because it’s NEWS Corp — mainly about journalism, not making toasters. I don’t care much, but that’s why it gets attention.

Jason said back:

Sure, but a ton of its profits come from 20th Cent, HarperCollins, Fox Television, and several dozen other properties.

Yes, Jason, but the fact remains that Rupert Murdoch is mainly seen as a “press lord.” It’s a matter of image. Like my distant relative William Randolph “Citizen Kane” Hearst delving into politics.

Oh, y’all didn’t know Hearst and I were related? Yep. The Hearsts were originally from South Carolina, you know — way back. Another distant relative who was into genealogy once told us that my Dad was Patty’s fifth cousin. Which means we didn’t exactly come in for a piece of San Simeon.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. While it doesn’t interest me very much that Murdoch wants to make a political contribution, if it DID, I’d mainly be ticked that he whips out his checkbook so readily for them, when it took him months to send me a measly amount when I had covered one of the hottest political stories of the year for him. But that would be petty of me, wouldn’t it?

I did arch an eyebrow when I read this passage in the WSJ story:

News Corp. spokesman Jack Horner said the contribution was intended to promote the company’s core beliefs. “News Corporation has always believed in the power of free markets and in organizations like the RGA, which have a pro-business agenda and support our priorities at this most critical time for our economy,” he said.

He added, “The corporate donation has no impact on the reporting activities of our newsgathering organizations. There is a strict wall between business and editorial and the corporate office does not consult with our newsgathering organizations … before making donations.”

But for a very esoteric, inside-baseball kind of reason. Basically, the passage is unclear because of the terminology. “Editorial,” used by a business-side guy, is a vague term meaning “news,” and only peripherally, “editorial” in the editorial-page sense. He’s trying to say that the NEWS side is unaffected. And I believe that’s true, aside from the fact that they’re no doubt embarrassed at having to report this, even on Page A4.

But what about the wall between news and editorial (one that is rhetorically erased by using “editorial” to refer to both), or the wall between editorial (as I use the term, meaning the opinion folks) and business side? Obviously, neither of those critical divisions is important to Mr. Horner.

Of course, at the WSJ, the point is rather moot. That paper’s editorial board was totally on board with “the power of free markets” LONG before they were owned by Rupert.

5 thoughts on “The News Corp. contribution to the GOP

  1. j

    Saw a brief history presentation on Whitmire, SC earlier this year and was very interesting to see the Hearst’s connections to this community.

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