The media conglomerate, controlled by Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, took advantage of the unlimited donations corporations can give to governors' associations (from Bloomberg BusinessWeek):
The Republicans' biggest corporate donor was New York-based News Corp. Teri Everett, a spokeswoman, said the company "actively supports organizations that advocate a pro-job, low tax, economic growth agenda."
News Corp. opposes proposed federal rule changes that would weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies. Governors may have a stake in the issue. In March, for example, New York Governor David Paterson stepped in with a call for binding arbitration in a dispute over fees between Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision Systems Corp. and Burbank, California-based Walt Disney Co.'s ABC.
As Smith points out, News Corp's highest-ranking Democratic executive, former #2 exec Peter Chernin, left the company last year. Murdoch's liaison to the Democratic party, communications executive Gary Ginsberg, also left the company last year.
"News Corporation believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy," a company spokesman told Smith.
Democratic operatives have hit back with statements calling Fox News's RGA donation a final indication that their "Fair and Balanced" brand is less accurate than ever.
From Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association:
"By contributing $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, Fox has crossed a bright line. Fox can no longer pretend that it is a 'fair and balanced' news organization when Rupert Murdoch greenlights a million dollar contribution to defeat Democratic governors.
"Time and time again, Fox News has defended itself against accusations that it is nothing more than a tool of the Republican Party. We know now that the reality is so much worse: they're bankrolling the GOP. FOX's news division is ignoring the fact that its own parent company made a direct and unprecedented partisan contribution to defeat Democrats. This is hypocrisy at its worst, and is a sad day for all of us who believe that an independent and impartial media is vital to our democracy.
"Not only does this contribution severely compromise Fox's news reporting, but it even breaks Fox's own promise to its shareholders that it won't give money to benefit officeholders.
"While it might be naive to think this will ever happen, we can only hope that Fox will own up to the activities and that its stable of opinion hosts like Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly will do the right thing and call on their company to return the contribution."
From Hari Sevugan, national press secretary of the DNC:
"'Fair and balanced' has been rendered utterly meaningless. Any pretense that may have existed about the ties between Fox News and the Republican Party has been ripped violently away.
"No Republican who appears on Fox can be seen as answering to an independent press and all should appear with a disclaimer for who they truly are -- the favored candidate of the corporate-friendly network. No Fox News's political coverage can be seen as impartial and all of it should have a disclaimer for what it truly is -- partisan propaganda."