It may surprise some that News Corp’s political donations history features so many Democrats, but by following the money we can see that this is politics as usual.
Political donations by News Corp., its employees and their families were evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, with President Obama the all-time leading recipient, according to a report from the Sunlight Foundation.
The transparency watchdog noted Tuesday that Democrats received 51 percent of contributions while Republicans received 49 percent, despite the firm’s highly publicized links to the GOP, such as a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association in August.
That sounds like a juicy story, and it is, but not for the reason that you may think.
Let’s follow money and see where it takes us.
News Corp’s top recipients in 2009 and 2010 were three Democrats, Sen. Barbara Boxer ($58,900), Rep. Henry Waxman ($28,900), and Rep. Howard Berman ($19,360). At first glance this doesn’t make much sense until you know that Barbara Boxer sits on the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. News Corp has also given oodles of money to Sen. John Kerry, and I’ll bet you’ll never guess which Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet he is the chairman of?
Rep. Henry Waxman is currently the Democratic Ex Officio of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Before 2010, Waxman was the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which just so happens to be responsible for the oversight of the subcommittee and oversight of the telecommunications industry. Big time News Corp donation recipient Republican James Sensenbrenner is the current chairman of the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, which fellow News Corp cash getter Rep. Howard Berman also sits on.
Ed Markey was donated to because he sits on the House U.S. House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and he also sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce which has jurisdiction over the FCC. Chuck Schumer sits on the powerful Judiciary Committee and the Judiciary subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, and the subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. (Keeping competition laws and regulations loose is a priority for News Corp).
The donations to Obama are the easiest of all to understand. News Corp like the rest of the corporate world donated to Obama because it looked like he was going to win. They donated heavily to Hillary Clinton and Obama both because they wanted to cover their bases, and make sure that they backed the 2008 winner.
The real story here isn’t that News Corp donated to Democrats. It is why they donated to Democrats. News Corp did nothing unusual. Every corporation donates to powerful elected officials regardless of party in order to sway the oversight of their industry. Every corporation uses their money to buy influence on the political process, and the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision will only make the problem worse.
Before you start to think that Rupert Murdoch is some sort of closet liberal, keep in mind that his personal political donations went 100% to Republicans. News Corp used their money to influence those who make the laws and perform oversight on the agencies who regulate them.
The important story isn’t that News Corp donated slightly more to Democrats during a time when they were in the majority. The dirty little secret that every American should know and be outraged by is that their democracy is owned, bought, and paid for by corporate America.
It is still one person, one vote, but in our broken campaign finance system corporate dollars completely trump the voice of the people.