Television viewers around the world watched media baron Rupert Murdoch's July 19 testimony before the British Parliament regarding allegations that his News of the World tabloid had hacked into the cellphones of numerous Britons, including a kidnapped girl. The following day in Washington, DC, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) released filings by News America Holdings Inc.-Fox Political Action Committee (hereafter referred to as Murdoch's PAC), News Corp.'s U.S. PAC, detailing its contributions to 2012 federal candidates, as well as to other PACs (see chart on facing page).
Most Americans know the components of Murdoch's U.S. empire-including Fox News, the New York Post and Wall Street Journal-as conservative outlets which are pro-Israel and anti-Muslim. Not surprisingly, Murdoch's PAC contributions reflect these biases-but candidates who seemingly do not adhere to them have received funds as well. Apparently, like any smart businessman, Murdoch wants to ensure that he has allies-or, some might say, indebted congressmen-on both sides of the aisle.
A person focused on pro-Israel PACs might initially sound like an ancient Roman, exclaiming "Mirabile visu!" ("wonderful to see") upon encountering a PAC that actually reveals on whose behalf it operates. Not only do all pro-Israel PACs describe themselves as "unaffiliated," but with rare exceptions their names-Desert Caucus, for example-give no indication of their agenda.
In an even more shocking comparison, from 1998, when Murdoch's PAC began making contributions, until 2006, its filings with the FEC actually included a "Foreign Parent Company: News Corp." and "Country of Origin: Australia"-this despite the fact that Murdoch became an American citizen in 1985. The PAC is now based in Washington, DC.
The most regular recipient of Murdoch's PAC contributions might be Rep. Howard "Even before I was a Democrat, I was a Zionist" Berman, formerly the chair and now the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Not only has Berman been a recipient in every election year except 2002, in 2010 he received the maximum contribution of $10,000 (as did fellow Zionist Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY]). Since 1998 Berman has received a total of $28,500 from Murdoch's PAC.
Other frequent recipients over the years-for all of whom Israel is a top priority-include Berman's Democratic California neighbors Reps. Brad Sherman, Adam Schiff and Jane Harman (the latter having recently decamped to head the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC). Nor has the House leadership been neglected: Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer can count on Murdoch's PAC, which in 2010 also gave $6,700 to soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and $10,000 to soon-to-be former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The Senate leadership did not fare quite so well, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who was in a very tight race, receiving a mere $1,000 and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was not even up for re-election in 2010, receiving $5,000.
After Kevin McCarthy, the recipient of the most Murdoch PAC funds for the 2012 election is Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking Democrat and former chair of the House Judiciary Committee. While some might think Murdoch suspected he might soon need an ally on that important committee, Conyers in fact has received PAC contributions every election year since 2002, for a total of $17,500. …