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The popular perception in America is that while most major media networks lean left, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – owner of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, for example – is a bastion for conservatives.
The record of News Corp’s campaign contributions, however, doesn’t paint the same picture.
According to data accumulated from the Federal Election Commission by the Center for Responsive Politics and published on OpenSecrets.org, the total contributions by News Corp political action committees, employees and their families favored Democrats by a more than 2-to-1 margin in the 2012 election.
Similarly, News Corp contributions favored Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney by a better than 5-to-1 margin.
All by itself, News America Holdings, News Corp’s political action committee, was more “fair and balanced” in its contributions but still granted 52 percent of its more than $300,000 spent on federal elections to Democrats and 48 percent to Republicans.
The top three recipients of campaign cash from News Corp in 2012 were, in order, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democrat presidential incumbent Obama.
Thus far in spending toward the upcoming 2014 mid-term election, News Corp is still favoring Democrats with a reported 62 percent of its total campaign donations.
Furthermore, News Corp’s preference for Democrat candidates isn’t actually new. Going back to 1990, News Corp contributions have favored Democrats in nine of 13 election cycles.
The numbers tend to swing even farther left during presidential years, as News Corp contributions have preferred Obama over Romney by a 5-to-1 margin in 2012, Obama over Republican John McCain by 3-to-1 in 2008 and the same margin in favoring Democrat Al Gore over Republican George W. Bush in 2000.
News Corp is listed by OpenSecrets.org as a “heavy hitter,” meaning it is one of the 140 biggest overall donors to federal elections since the 1990 election cycle.
By comparison, the Walt Disney Company, owner of ABC and ESPN and also a “heavy hitter,” favored Democrats over Republicans by a 3-to-1 margin in 2012 and Obama over Romney by more than 8-to-1. Disney has also favored Democratic candidates in every election since 1990.
Comcast, owner of NBC and MSNBC, is a significantly larger and more diversified company, and its total contributions dwarf both Disney and News Corp. Of the over $5 million its affiliated companies and individuals gave to campaigns in 2012, roughly $3 million went to Democrats and $2 million went to Republicans. Contributions favored Obama over Romney 3-to-1. Comcast companies and employees have contributed more to Democrats than Republicans in eight of the last 13 elections.
News Corp founder Murdoch, however, hasn’t followed his company’s patterns. Records show of the over $800,000 total he and his most recent wife, Wendi, have contributed cumulatively since 1990, 83 percent has landed in Republican hands. In 2012, the couple donated $73,500 to Republican candidates and only $5,000 to Democrats.
Other News Corp executives, though, have led the charge to the left. Peter Chernin, News Corp’s president and chief operating officer from 1996-2009, and his wife, Megan, have sent 87 percent of their contributions to Democrats since 1990.
News Corps’ film division, 20th Century Fox, has leaned most heavily on the scales, sending over $365,000 to Democrats in 2012, compared only $1,500 to Republicans.
Employees of news outlets themselves, like Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, tend to make very few campaign contributions, often because of company policies forbidding it. Less than $10,000 was contributed in 2012 from employees of the three news outlets combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.