Boy, this is embarrassing.
Breaking political news yesterday was that newly elected Kentucky Republican senator, Rand Paul, had already flip-flopped on the issue of earmarks. The Tea Party-backed candidate announced that suddenly he would fight to to make sure Kentucky received its fair share of earmark dollars and federal pork. This, despite the fact that banishing evil earmarks is (supposedly) a central tenet of the Tea Party movement.
With that in mind, behold the caption from a news article in today's Wall Street Journal [emphasis added]:
Newly elected Republican Rand Paul is opposed to earmarks, which circumvent the competitive federal funding system.
The article itself makes no mention that Tea Party favorite Paul just announced he'll fight for Kentucky earmarks.
Possible new motto for Murdoch's Journal? "Reporting last week's news."
According to Federal Election Commission records, on September 30, News Corp. CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch gave $2,500 to the Senate Majority Fund, the leadership political action committee of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Kyl serves as the assistant minority leader for Senate Republicans, and uses the PAC to support other Republicans.
News Corp. is the parent company of the Fox News Channel.
Murdoch, a long time donor to Republican causes, has also given $1,500 to Meg Whitman's unsuccessful California gubernatorial campaign, and $10,000 to former Fox News employee John Kasich's successful Ohio gubernatorial campaign.
News Corp. recently donated $1.25 million to the Republican Governors' Association and $1 million to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce.
Murdoch is one of numerous Fox Newsers who have supported the Republican Party during this election cycle.
Rupert Murdoch has sent some new signals about where he and NewsCorp may stand in the brewing battle between the GOP establishment's preferences for the GOP presidential ticket in 2012 (led by paid Fox New contributor Karl Rove) -- which pointedly do not include Sarah Palin -- and the increasingly probable "rogue" presidential candidacy of Palin (also a paid Fox New contributor).
To date it has been established that Palin and Beck stand together in the use of divisive fear mongering and violence-inciting language that has already led to real violence (the head-stomping of a progressive activist by a Rand Paul supporter in Kentucky), a string of death threats directly linked to Beck (Nancy Pelosi and Patty Murray), and a near tragedy at the Tides Foundation directly linked to Beck by the shooter himself. In reaction to a challenge by myself and Michael Keegan in the Huffington Post, Palin said, "I stand with you with you, Glenn" in direct reference to his reckless rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and their palpable deranged consequences. It goes without saying that Beck (and Rush Limbaugh to boot) stand with Palin, but it's also clear that she, the one with the electoral political ambition, needs them more than they need her. Fox's Greta Van Susteren also seems to be on the Palin bandwagon.
In a little-noticed interview with the Australian Financial Review, Murdoch, echoing Palin, has announced in no uncertain terms he stands with Beck -- a "very genuine, extremely well-read libertarian" was his description of his star. Perhaps to underline the point that his top talent ought to get with the extremist Beck/Palin program, he trashed top-rated host Bill O'Reilly for a relatively even-handed interview of Hillary Clinton. "Disgraceful," Murdoch called O'Reilly's handling of that interview. Murdoch's disgraceful statement -- and its message to all of Fox's on-air talent and producers -- shows once again the cynicism and deception behind the slogan "Fair and Balanced." (Bill, I have tried to be booked on your show for years without success. I would be happy to come on soon to defend your handling of the Clinton interview and analyze your boss's trashing of you.)
Could be that Murdoch wants to back the hottest Fox stars -- Beck and Palin -- for financial reasons; he observed in the same interview that Fox is "beating the shit" out of CNN in the ratings. Of Beck he said: "Millions -- millions -- watch him at 5 in the afternoon!!" Could be that he views Tea Party agitation as merely something to be ginned up by Beck and Palin, and used in the service of a victory against Obama by ANY GOP nominee, which he will do everything he can, in the accustomed role of political kingmaker, to ensure. "The Tea Party will stiffen the back of the Republican Party," Murdoch said.
This, itself, telegraphs far and wide within Fox that Murdoch's prior statement that Fox should not support the Tea Party or any political party is no longer operative (doesn't look like it ever was anyway, except when Fox humiliated Sean Hannity by yanking him off a Tea Party fundraiser at the eleventh hour). But words matter when you are the boss, and Murdoch has now flip-flopped. When asked by the Australian interviewer, "Are you worried by the attacks on Fox for bias and its support for the Tea Party and Republicans?" Murdoch replied, "Noooo...People love Fox News."
But there is more to suggest Murdoch has shown his hand -- not just in standing with Beck -- but by signaling that he will throw the weight of his powerful political apparatus disguised as a media empire behind Palin as his favored GOP nominee.
In the same interview, Murdoch quoted Mike Bloomberg as telling him that after Bloomberg met with Obama, Bloomberg "came back and said I'd never met in my life a more arrogant man." Murdoch, a close personal friend and political supporter of Bloomberg, who used the New York Post to help elect the mayor, endorsed Bloomberg's purported views of Obama.
What's behind Murdoch's Bloomberg boosterism? Probably boosting Sarah Palin.
Against the conventional wisdom, John Heilemann of New York Magazine has argued at length -- in a much-discussed piece "2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President" -- that a Bloomberg candidacy can only help Palin become President, if she is the nominee. Bloomberg is not a centrist -- centrism is not a political position, it is a non-position, and therefore attracts little support, especially in a third party frame (remember the Unity 08 flop?). He is a moderate with clear views.
What most commentators who have thrown cold water on Heilemann's thesis have missed is that they have misunderstood Bloomberg, interpreting the wrong-headed notion of his "centrism" as drawing equally from both the Democrat and the Republican ticket and thus not affecting the outcome either way.
The truth is that many of Bloomberg's views are to Obama's left in word or deed: on immigration, gay rights (he is for same sex marriage), he is a strong supporter of gun control, against the death penalty, has enacted plans to fight global warming, and talks frequently about the pressing social need to reduce the income gap between rich and poor. There was also his unequivocal position in favor of building the New York City Mosque. Would President Bloomberg -- a staunch pro-choicer -- have let the Stupak Amendment slide through? "Reproductive choice is a fundamental human right, and we can never take it for granted," Bloomberg has said.
Other views Bloomberg holds provide succor to Democrats in the financial services industry and more broadly in the business community who have been turned off by what they see as Obama's populist anti-Wall Street polemics and anti-business pro-union attitudes. "Wall Street's staunchest defender," New York Magazine dubbed the Mayor, who is also less than enamored with organized labor.
These positions altogether draw away from the Democratic nominee, not the Republican. Can a man who just said this weekend in an interview with the Wall Street Journal of the new Congress -- "If you look at the U.S. you look at who we're electing to Congress, to the Senate, they can't read" -- possibly draw many votes from Palin, or from any GOP nominee who will have to co-opt the Tea Party folks to win? Don't think so.
What about Bloomberg's fiscal conservatism? His actual record certainly won't be attractive to the right. He doesn't like taxes, but he eliminated New York's deficit and balanced the budget by raising them. Could his fiscal conservatism play well with Democratic base? Also unlikely. Bloomberg and Treasury Secretary Geithner have disagreed about the extension of the Bush tax breaks for the rich. But the smoke signals coming out of the Obama administration this weekend suggest an openness to the Bloomberg (and Congresssional Republican) position -- not a permanent extension, but maybe for a year or two.
So if some progressive Democrats who favor progressive tax policy end up interpreting the Bloomberg and Obama tax policies as in effect the same, why not pick the stronger social liberal, Bloomberg?
What is clear as this story develops is: MSNBC execs are wringing their hands over and trying to kill their marquee host, Keith Olbermann for some piddling personal donations -- after having just a few weeks ago announced a new openly progressive branding campaign -- "Lean Forward" -- for the increasingly competitive cable network, that success brought to them in the first place by Olbermann's talents as a broadcaster (MSNBC is "beating the shit" out of CNN too). Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch is swiftly maneuvering, promoting his top stars, issuing new commands to his troops with a partisan political end game in mind: "With any kind of a Republican candidate ... Obama will find it impossible to win" re-election. For now, it looks like Murdoch's preferred candidate is Sarah Barracuda. What will Karl Rove and Company do about that? Stay tuned.
In an exclusive interview published in The Australian Financial Review -- an Australian daily national economic newspaper -- News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch reportedly brags about Fox News host Glenn Beck, whom he describes as a "very genuine, extremely well-read libertarian," and criticizes Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, saying his "easy" treatment of now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview was "disgraceful."
When questioned by interviewer Max Suich about those who don't like Fox News, Murdoch reportedly commented: "Well half hate it, half love it. We said to the cable operators when we put the price up, we said, do you want a monument to yourself ... cancel us, you might get your house burnt down." He later said Fox News was "beating the shit out of" cable news competitor CNN.
In the wide-ranging interview, Murdoch also criticized President Obama, saying he "doesn't listen to anybody" and that "[w]ith any kind of a Republican candidate -- a decent Republican governor, say -- Obama will find it impossible to win [re-election]." Regarding the tea party movement Fox News has aggressively promoted, Murdoch said: "The Tea Party will stiffen the back of the Republican Party. This is an upswell. They [the Tea Party] have no leadership; that's why they get a few crackpots in it."
An excerpt from The Australian Financial Review interview, "Uncut: the thoughts of Chairman Murdoch," (subscription only):
Are you worried by the attacks on Fox News for bias and its support of the Tea Party and the Republicans?
NOooo ... people love Fox News.
Some people don't.
Well half hate it, half love it. We said to the cable operators when we put the price up, we said do you want a monument to yourself ... cancel us, you might get your house burnt down. (Both laugh.)
There's a lot of Democrats on Fox News, not just Republicans.
Everyone is invited on.
Bill O'Reilly gets Hillary Clinton on. He's disgraceful the way he gives her such an easy ride. We're beating the shit out of CNN.
There's a guy on Fox who started on CNN called Glenn Beck.
He is a little bit of an actor, he looks in the camera all the time. He's very genuine, extremely well-read libertarian, doesn't make any secret of it. He says don't trust the government, don't trust me, just trust yourselves.
He's hit a nerve. Millions -- millions -- watch him at five in the afternoon!
Is this healthy politics, such a huge growth in American populism?
The Tea Party will stiffen the back of the Republican Party.
This is an upswell. They have no leadership; that's why they get a few crackpots in it.
People just very deeply feel there's too much government. Under Obama it has accelerated.
The states are broke, taxes are going up. Land and school taxes all going through the roof in Nassau County, in Westchester.
Is this newsroom game ever going to get old?
You know the drill: Reporters and pundits go on and on about Sarah Palin's White House prospects. (FYI, they really want her to run.) But either out of some odd courtesy to her, or more likely because they don't want to flag the obvious flaw in the media's preferred Palin-might-run! narrative, any mention of her truly abysmal polling numbers is politely ignored.
The strange part is that the Journal article actually does address the issue of Palin and polling. Just not the most relevant part:
In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in mid-October, Republicans cited her most often as the "most important leader or spokesperson'' for the GOP. Ms. Palin was named by 19% of Republicans in the survey, ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at 16%, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, at 14%, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at 13%.
Independent voters also cited Ms. Palin as the "most important'' GOP leader, but they listed Mr. Romney second most frequently, with Mr. Huckabee a more distant third.
But hey, other than that her WH chances seem bright.
There are lots of things wrong with the Wall Street Journal's big A1 celebration of the Tea Party movement today, as the newspaper publishes a lengthy look back at how the groups were formed and how they gained political clout.
For instance, the Journal completely underplays the extraordinarily important role outside, non-grassroots, entities have played in propping up Tea Parties. Outside players like Fox News, right-wing billionaire David Koch, and Washington insider Dick Armey. Instead, the Journal sticks to the preferred Tea Party script of an authentic grassroots uprising.
The Journal also reports that Tea Party groups were instrumental in Scott Brown's Massachusetts win earlier this year; a claim that not even the Republican senator thinks is true.
But perhaps most amazing is how the Journal lets Tea Party founders claim that the conservative, anti-Obama movement was a reaction against Republicans, and that their anger was aimed at Republican members of Congress.
The Journal has a big A1 story today about how Republicans hope to learn from the mistakes they made following their 1994 victory, which handed them control of the House, and how House Republicans behind the scenes are getting ready to work in a bipartisan fashion should Rep. John Boehner become Speaker of the House. To implement a "a post-election strategy aimed at securing concrete legislation."
Republicans, who have built their agenda for the last two year around obstructing virtually any and all legislation favored by Democrats and who have adopted an historic brand of partisanship, are going to change their ways. Upon gaining control of the House, they're going to unveil a new era of political cooperation and reach across the party isle for the good of the country. (If Obama is willing to compromise, of course.)
Or so say Republican leaders.
It's all very interesting. And I'm sure it's especially interesting for Democratic members of Congress who have been treated to nothing but 'no' votes for two years. So what do Democratic members think about the soon-to-be era of bipartisan cooperation? Well, Journal readers don't know because there's not a single Democrat quoted in the article.
In a report about bipartisanship, Rupert Murdoch's WSJ forgot to interview any Democrats.
The New York Times notes that according to recently-filed disclosure reports, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- through subsidiary News America -- has donated an additional $250,000 to the Republican Governors Association, "bringing [News America's] total contribution for the year to $1.25 million."
According to RGA disclosures filed the evening of October 15 with the IRS, this most recent contribution was made on July 14.
At the News Corp. annual shareholders meeting, which took place the morning of October 15, Murdoch came under fire for the company's contributions of $1 million each to the RGA and the Chamber of Commerce.
Responding to shareholders' questions, Murdoch said the donations were "unusual" and "in the interest of our shareholders and the country." Murdoch also said that it is "in the interest of the country and of all the shareholders ... that there be a fair amount of change in Washington."
News Corp.'s additional $250,000 contribution to the RGA -- having not yet been publicly disclosed by the RGA in IRS filings -- was unknown to shareholders at the time of the annual meeting.
Murdoch and the board of directors did not offer information about the additional RGA donation that morning.
From the October 15 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
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There was an entertaining moment during News Corp.'s shareholder meeting this morning when Rupert Murdoch was asked about Fox News president Roger Ailes' reported frustration with Glenn Beck's use of Fox News airwaves to promote his own brand and interests. Murdoch said to his interrogator: "I don't know whether you watch Fox News, but Mr. Beck is the least of our stars who take liberties in promoting their interests."
I see... Forget the concerned shareholder -- I don't know whether Rupert Murdoch watches Fox News. Only someone who has never sat down and viewed an entire episode of Glenn Beck could possibly think that Beck is the least egregiously self-promoting personality on Fox News.
Consider that in the past 20 months, Beck has used Fox News to:
Anyone who's watched Glenn Beck's Fox News program knows that it's essentially an hour-long infomercial for Glenn Beck (with the occasional anti-Semite thrown in there). Somehow, this seems to have eluded Rupert Murdoch. Perhaps he gets his news from CNN.
Transcript after the jump.
Fielding questions at a News Corp. shareholder meeting this morning, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch flatly denied that hundreds of advertisers refuse to advertise on Glenn Beck's Fox News program due to a boycott organized after Beck called President Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Asked about reports that nearly 300 advertisers are boycotting Glenn Beck, Murdoch responded: "That's not true ... Maybe four or five who have been moved over to Mr. O'Reilly's program." Murdoch added: "No one has taken any money off the channel."
The questioner was referring to the September 29 New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of Beck, which reported that "as of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck's show." The website StopBeck.com lists at least 137 sponsors that refuse to advertise on Glenn Beck. Beck's advertisers now consist mainly of gold-selling firms, conservative magazines, and, naturally, News Corp. properties.
Reporting on the News. Corp annual meeting in New York today, The Hollywood Reporter noted that "Murdoch acknowledged: 'I don't agree with everything that's said on Fox News.' He argued that is only natural as the network tries to present different views."
From The Hollywood Reporter:
Questions about two $1 million political donations to groups with ties to the Republican Party took over a good portion of the News Corp. annual shareholder meeting here Friday.
Faced with criticism that the donations had political motivations and no business benefits, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said they were "in the interest of the country and all the shareholders."
He also argued that they have "nothing to do with the editorial policies or the journalism" that the company provides.
Sir Rod Eddington, News Corp.'s audit committee head who came under pressure ahead of Friday's meeting due to the donations, also told shareholders that the donations decisions were made with shareholder interests in mind after input from executives and the general counsel.
Meanwhile, in the context of a question about Fox News, Murdoch acknowledged: "I don't agree with everything that's said on Fox News." He argued that is only natural as the network tries to present different views.
Audio and transcript below:
QUESTIONER: There's been reports today that Mr. Ailes is a bit concerned about Mr. Beck, um--
MURDOCH: Is what?
QUESTIONER: Mr. Ailes is a bit concerned about Glenn Beck and him promoting his personal interests too much on the show, damaging Fox News, been saying it's too partisan. This can play out in potential--
MURDOCH: I don't know whether you watch Fox News, but Mr. Beck is the least of our stars who take liberties in promoting their interests.
QUESTIONER: So you are 100 percent comfortable with everything Mr. Beck is doing on behalf of shareholders?
MURDOCH: I don't agree with everything that's said on Fox News because we have all opinions. Unlike other channels, we are completely fair and open. And we have Democrats being interviewed, Republicans. We have people come on and argue. We've all sides of everything, and I don't agree with everything that is said, naturally.
Responding to shareholder questions regarding News Corp.'s controversial $1 million contributions to the Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors Association, Rupert Murdoch said the donations were "unusual" and "in the interest of our shareholders and the country." Murdoch also said that it is "in the interest of the country and of all the shareholders ... that there be a fair amount of change in Washington."
According to Murdoch and the board of directors -- who took questions from shareholders during the News Corp. annual meeting in New York this morning -- the payments were reviewed by the general counsel. Sir Roderick Eddington, chairman of the audit committee, said he understood shareholders' calls for transparency and Murdoch indicated the company would consider some type of disclosure.
Murdoch also indicated that shareholders would not be engaged in selecting recipients of donations, and that if shareholders disagreed with directors' decisions, "you have the right to vote us off the board."
When asked specifically about his widely reported comment that News Corp.'s donation to the RGA was a result of his friendship with former Fox News employee and current GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich, Murdoch said "I didn't say it had nothing to do with News. Corp. I did make a foolish throwaway line saying -- I was trying to -- candidate Kasich who used to work for us for a number of years."
Eddington told a representative from the Nathan Cummings Foundation -- which sent a letter to the board of directors earlier this week calling for full disclosure of News Corp.'s political contributions -- that their proposal would be reviewed and that News Corp. would "act expeditiously."
Transcript after the jump.
Rupert Murdoch claimed in a recent speech that "the most virulent strains" of anti-Semitism "come from the left." However, his own Fox News personalities have a history of promoting anti-Semitic sources and mainstreaming people who have associations with anti-Semitic groups.
From the October 13 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
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