It’s not just the parent company

IT’S NOT JUST THE PARENT COMPANY…. News Corp’s $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association has generated a fair amount of attention, not on Fox News, which refuses to report on the story, but at most major outlets. There is a defense that Fox News can point to, however: News Corp is the corporate parent, so it’s not the network’s fault.

Michael Wolff reports today, however, that this unpersuasive argument isn’t true. Rupert Murdoch isn’t usually inclined to give $1 million to politicians, and according to Wolff, the massive contribution came not from Murdoch but from Roger Ailes — the Republican campaign veteran who runs Fox News.

The company is claiming the donation has nothing to do with its news side, going so far as to audaciously say, “There is a strict wall between business and editorial.” The “corporate side” made the donation, News Corp.’s hapless spokesman insists. But the central advocate for giving the dough has been none other than Fox Chief Roger Ailes. In the past, Ailes has been stymied or neutralized in his quest to have the company put its corporate money where its mouth is, because the No. 2 in the company until last summer, Peter Chernin, was a Democrat.

With Chernin gone, and with Fox News outperforming most other parts of the company, Ailes is the central voice… It really isn’t possible that Murdoch is giving a million bucks and getting nothing for it.

Indeed, it’s equally implausible that Murdoch’s operation would care about gubernatorial races enough to give the Republican Governors Association a contribution with no modern precedent. The House and Senate, maybe. But governors? Republicans care about gubernatorial races, in large part because of post-Census redistricting, but News Corp’s interest doesn’t really make sense.

Roger Ailes’ interest, however, makes perfect sense.

As for Fox News’ defense, the Republican network is sticking to its usual m.o. For years, when Fox News faces criticism, it lashes out at its detractors, mirroring the kind of tactics one might see from a rapid-response team on a Republican campaign. Facing allegations stemming from the $1 million donation to the RGA, we’re seeing the usual tactics once again.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.