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News Corp. defends $1 million donation to Republican Governors Association
Until now, the News Corp./Fox political action committee had given 54 percent of its donations to Democrats and 46 percent to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics -- including $8,000 to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid's campaign committee and $5,000 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's organization. News Corp. also gave $45,000 each to GOP and Democratic campaign committees on Capitol Hill.
A seven-figure donation is not a first for Murdoch; he gave $1 million to the California Republican Party in 1996.
"The way the rules are written, he is playing by the rules," says Tobe Berkovitz, an associate professor of communication at Boston University. "This just reinforces for liberals how evil and manipulative Fox and Rupert Murdoch are. For the civilians out there, I don't think they're going to see this as particularly relevant or particularly important."
Fox News, the home of such hosts as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, has long been at odds with the Democratic Party. During the 2008 campaign, Murdoch and Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes held a secret meeting with candidate Barack Obama in an effort to clear the air. "I wanted him to understand that we're a real journalism organization and we're going to cover what's there. We're not out to get him," Ailes said in a subsequent interview.
But the relationship blew up last year. The White House refused for months to make top officials available for interviews and assailed Fox as an arm of the Republican Party -- an attack that was revived Tuesday.
"Any pretense that may have existed about the ties between Fox News and the Republican Party has been ripped violently away," said Hari Sevugan, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee. "Any Republican that appears on Fox should now have a disclaimer that they are financially supported by the network and any coverage of the elections this fall on Fox should be reported with disclaimer for what it is -- partisan propaganda."
An outspoken conservative, the Australian-born Murdoch has nonetheless sought accommodations over the years with political rivals, including Tony Blair when he was British prime minister and Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was a senator from New York. Asked at a forum in April about Fox's heavy coverage of the "tea party" movement, Murdoch said: "I don't think we should be supporting the tea party or any other party."
Kurtz also works for CNN and hosts its weekly media program, "Reliable Sources."