Fox News has taken flak for airing a four-minute political attack ad against President Obama during its regular programming this week. The ad wasn’t purchased by any outside group; it was simply produced by the network and aired as part of regular Fox News content. Though the network has tried to deflect criticism for the ad by blaming an associate producer, we tried to get more direct answers.
Yesterday on Capitol Hill, Republic Report ran into Griff Jenkins, an on-air reporter for Fox News. Although he covers politics and campaigns for the network, Jenkins told us he had no opinions on the ad and couldn’t comment. Asked about how average Americans can ever have their voice heard if billionaires and multi-billion dollar corporations continue to expand their role in shaping elections, Jenkins incredulously told Republic Report’s Zaid Jilani, “I don’t know, but I’m glad you’re looking into it!”
As we mentioned in our short conversation with Jenkins, Fox News’ parent company, News Corporation, has taken unprecedented steps to become involved in partisan politics — far beyond the unethical 4-minute attack ad in the news this week:
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– In October of 2010, News Corporation donated $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to fund part of its $75 million election effort during the midterm elections.
– In August of 2010, News Corporation donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association to fund its attack ad effort to elect Republican governors, like John Kasich (R-OH).
In fairness to News Corp and Fox News, other big corporate interests have taken an increasing role in partisan politics over the years. Sinclair Broadcasting Network began airing partisan content on its regular programming during the 2004 election. Corporate parent companies of other networks, from CNN to MSNBC to Bloomberg media, contribute large sums to political campaigns — though usually through limited political action committees.