Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hillary Clinton Shuns Fox Debates, But Pockets Murdochs' Money

The Huffington Post | July 17, 2007
Thomas B. Edsall

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards may not want to participate in debates sponsored by FOX News, but they like taking cash from officials of the company considered an arm of the conservative movement by many liberal Democrats.

In April, Edwards led the charge in refusing to participate in a Fox-sponsored debate. His deputy campaign manager, Jonathan Prince, told AP: "We believe there's just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they're objective."

Within days, Clinton followed suit. Unlike Edwards, Clinton did not directly attack Fox in announcing her decision.

"We're going to participate in the D.N.C. [Democratic National Committee]-sanctioned debates only. We've previously committed to participating in the South Carolina and Tavis Smiley debates," Clinton spokesman Phil Singer said. The Fox debate was not DNC-approved.

Obama joined in with Clinton. Bill Burton, Obama's spokesman, said a CNN-sponsored debate would be a more "appropriate venue."

But in her most recent filing at the FEC, Hillary Clinton reported two large donations from the very top of the Fox corporate structure.

On June 5, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the News Corporation, gave her presidential bid $2,300. A few weeks later, his son, James R. Murdoch, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting in London, gave $3,400. Altogether, NewsCorp/Fox executives gave at least $40,000 to the Clinton campaign.

In July 2006, the elder Murdoch hosted a fundraiser for Clinton's Senate re-election campaign, raising many eyebrows among Democrats. The Financial Times, which first disclosed the event, noted that Murdoch was a part of the "vast right wing conspiracy" named by Hillary Clinton as determined to destroy her husband's presidency.

She explained her willingness then to accept Murdoch's support to the FT: "He's my constituent and I'm very gratified that he thinks I'm doing a good job."

Asked about the Murdoch contributions to Clinton's presidential bid, Howard Wolfson, director of communications, said he had no comment.

Obama has taken more $14,000 from NewsCorp/Fox executives, although none came from the Murdochs themselves. In the broad network of NewsCorp/Fox holdings, with many Hollywood and entertainment entities, there are a substantial number of Democrats on the payroll.

Obama's contributions from NewsCorp/Fox executives included $2,300 each from Daniel Fawcett and Donna Isaacson; $1,000 each from Carla Hacken and Jospeh Hartwick; and a number of donations from other NewsCorp/Fox officials and employees. No comment from the campaign was immediately available.

Edwards received substantially less than Clinton or Obama. His contributions from NewsCorp/Fox executives Louis Supowitz, Jonathan Sarrow, Sean A. Riley, and Jonathan Sarrow total just under $1,000. There was no immediate comment from the Edwards campaign.