Conservative commentator Glenn Beck devoted a portion of his Fox News Channel show to mocking a Napa Valley fundraiser hosted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year.
Seated at a table across from someone sporting a Pelosi mask, Beck held up a glass of what looked like red wine and jokingly suggested the California Democrat’s cup was spiked with poison. He pretended to point out participants at the event, noting “Hey, I think I see Ed Markey, the author of cap-and-trade, right over there,” referring to the Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts.
But while the provocative TV host skewered the Democrats’ money-raising zeal, Beck’s employer has recently been bolstering the coffers of many of the same liberal lawmakers who have come under attack from Beck and Fox’s array of other conservative commentators.
The political action committee of News Corp., which owns Fox and other publications and media operations, including the Wall Street Journal, has given 57.2 percent of its $187,000 in contributions so far this election cycle to Democratic candidates. That rate is higher than the 2008 cycle, when the News America-Fox PAC sent just more than half of its money to Democrats.
The company not only leaned toward Democrats but also gave to some of the party’s most liberal Members, including $2,500 each to Pelosi and Markey this year.
Another target of conservative wrath, Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), received $5,000. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, got a $2,500 check from the media company’s PAC.
The News America-Fox PAC also donated $1,000 each to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), who faces a tough re-election in Arkansas.
But News Corp., which is headed by the Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, has not ignored Republicans. It donated $1,000 in June to Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who routinely goes after the Obama administration. And it gave $1,500 to Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), one of the top Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
As some of the network’s pundits such as Beck have cheered on the tea party movement, the company’s PAC gave $2,000 in July to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who was defeated in a GOP primary in September by the tea-party-backed candidate Joe Miller. Murkowski, who had the support of the Republican establishment before losing to Miller, has launched a write-in campaign to keep her seat.
Despite the Democratic tilt of its PAC giving, News Corp. separately made its biggest financial commitment this election season — about $1.1 million — to Republican groups that run unrestricted 527 political funds. The largest chunk of that money, $1 million, was sent to the Republican Governors Association.
By contrast, the company gave $50,000 to one Democratic 527 fund run by the Democratic Attorneys General Association.
The contribution to the RGA sparked an outcry from some Democrats and liberal commentators, who suggested the donation underscored Fox’s Republican bias.
A spokesman for News Corp. did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Eric Boehlert, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog group, said News Corp. has taken “a very traditional spread-the-money-around” approach when it comes to its PAC.
But Boehlert said those contributions to Democrats are modest in comparison to the $1 million that the company gave to the RGA.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.