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Taking Rupert's Cash

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 3, 2007; 6:52 AM

Rupert Murdoch, campaign issue?

Until now, the sturm und drang about the mogul's takeover of the Wall Street Journal has largely been limited to media types, who are understandably concerned that Murdoch might run the nation's premier financial newspaper the way he runs the New York Post.

But now that Murdoch's News Corp. has struck the $5-billion deal for Dow Jones, John Edwards is upping the ante. Edwards was the first of the Dems to refuse to debate on Fox News, which won him plaudits in the lefty blogosphere, and here's the latest:

Former senator John Edwards, who has been throwing punches at Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News Channel, demanded yesterday that the other Democratic presidential candidates return contributions from Murdoch's media conglomerate.

"John Edwards will never ask Rupert Murdoch for money -- he won't accept his money," said a statement e-mailed to supporters.

Not so fast, Murdoch's people say. His publishing unit, HarperCollins, paid Edwards a $500,000 advance -- and $300,000 in expenses -- for his 2006 book "Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives."

"We assume the senator is going to give back the money from his advance," News Corp. spokesman Brian Lewis said.

Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz said his boss donated the book payments to charity and that the expense money went to staffers and vendors. Citing the announcement that prompted Edwards's e-mail -- Murdoch's $5 billion deal to buy Dow Jones -- Schultz said, "This is about whether or not Murdoch should expand his media empire and use the Wall Street Journal to further promote his right-wing agenda."

The Edwards demand was aimed squarely at Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has received more than $20,000 from News Corp. executives, including $2,300 from Murdoch and $4,600 from company president Peter Chernin. Sen. Barack Obama has gotten $2,100 from Chernin. Lewis noted that Chernin appeared, at Edwards's request, at a 2004 fundraiser for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

While the Edwards mailing accused Fox of trying to "demonize the Democratic Party and call it 'news,' " he has boycotted the cable channel only since Jan. 23. Before that, Edwards appeared on Fox programs 33 times.

Speaking of Murdoch, this does not inspire confidence:

"Dow Jones & Co. said on Thursday it did not know that one of the people named to protect its editorial independence after it becomes part of News Corp. (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) runs a foundation that received $2.5 million in funding from Rupert Murdoch's global media conglomerate."


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