Dropping An Already-Thin Pretense, Cont’d

DROPPING AN ALREADY-THIN PRETENSE, CONT’D…. In mid-August, we learned that media giant News Corp., Fox News’ parent company, had broken new political ground by contributing $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. There was no modern precedent for this kind of financial intervention by a media organization, and asked for an explanation, a spokesperson said it was because News Corp agrees with Republicans.

As it turns out, the conservative conglomerate wasn’t done. In addition to RGA donation, and in-kind contributions by Fox News personalities on a daily basis, News Corp has now also contributed an additional $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its election-year activities.

Regular readers are well aware of the Chamber’s ties to the Republican Party, but let’s be clear about exactly what News Corp is investing in.

Specifically, the chamber has said it plans to spend $75 million in connection with the 2010 election, and has so far has directed substantial amounts to Republican Senate candidates. As of Sept. 15th, the group had spent $6,747,946 airing more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project.

That figure made the chamber the biggest spender on congressional races of any interest group, and the second biggest-spending national group after the RGA.

I don’t imagine anyone in the political world will be especially surprised by these developments. Major media companies routinely make modest contributions to both Democrats and Republicans, but News Corp and Fox News are obviously driven by a very different set of standards — and motivated by a different kind of agenda.

For years, there’s been a half-hearted attempt to maintain a thin pretense about remaining “fair and balanced,” but as the Republican Party grows more hysterical, its propaganda outlet and corporate benefactor no longer feel the need to even bother keeping up appearances.

Ideally, seven-figure contributions like these would change the nature of the larger discussion. To this day, professional media outlets go along with the game, adding polite caveats — “some have accused” Fox News and News Corp of “favoring” the GOP — to truths that haven’t been in doubt for quite some time. For crying out loud, several likely Republican presidential candidates are literally on News Corp’s payroll.

Can we now, at long last, agree that if the lines of professionalism still exist, Murdoch’s enterprises have crossed them? This is a partisan political operation, not a journalistic one. It doesn’t seek to cover elections, it seeks to influence the outcome of elections.