OFF THE GRID

Who’s Really Giving Away Rupert Murdoch’s Money?

Aug 19, 10 | 8:05 AM   byMichael Wolff
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The notable thing about Rupert Murdoch donating a million bucks to the Republican Governors Association is not that he’s risking general censure and opprobrium with this donation, but that he’s donating money at all. Murdoch hates the idea of giving away money for nothing. The simple public relations idea of courting goodwill by donating an infinitesimal part of your wealth to a charity of your choice is anathema to Murdoch. He thinks the rich guys who do it are phonies. He’s always irritated with his 102-year-old mother for supporting Australian charities—in this regard he rather thinks she’s a phony.

Nor does he like giving money to politicians. He thinks they’re greedy, believes the money is never well spent, and, to boot, that he supports them enough already.

So WTF?

Just say a little bird told me … the money doesn’t come from Rupert.

The company is claiming the donation has nothing to do with its news side, going so far as to audaciously say, “There is a strict wall between business and editorial.” The “corporate side” made the donation, News Corp.’s hapless spokesman insists. But the central advocate for giving the dough has been none other than Fox Chief Roger Ailes. In the past, Ailes has been stymied or neutralized in his quest to have the company put its corporate money where its mouth is, because the No. 2 in the company until last summer, Peter Chernin, was a Democrat.

With Chernin gone, and with Fox News outperforming most other parts of the company, Ailes is the central voice. What’s more, Chernin’s sidekick, corporate PR-guy Gary Ginsberg, who could be counted on to use the threat of bad press to keep Murdoch from giving in to Ailes’ none-too-politic schemes and demands, is also gone—purged, in part, by Ailes.

It’s one of the major inter-office issues at News Corp.: how to keep Roger from bullying Rupert.

Still, even Ailes’ petulance and self-dramatizing (“look at everything I’ve done for you”) is not necessarily enough to overcome Murdoch’s profound cheapness.

It really isn’t possible that Murdoch is giving a million bucks and getting nothing for it.

Politics is, for Murdoch, like everything else, business.

So … look for a sweet uptick at Fox in one of the fastest growing segments of cable’s revenue streams, political advertising.

The Murdoch and Ailes investment is going to pay off in many ways.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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OFF THE GRID is about why the news is the news. Here are the real motivations of both media and newsmakers. Here's the backstory. This is a look at the inner workings of desperate media, the inner life of the publicity crazed, and the true meaning of the news of the day.

 

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