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New York Times Suggests FOX News Owner Murdoch Bought Off Top US Senator

Reported by Ellen - June 25, 2007 -

As Raw Story reports, a New York Times article today opens with the suggestion that Murdoch staved off legislation that could strangle his US business interests by buying off Senator Trent Lott.

To quote from the New York Times piece:

In the fall of 2003, a piece of Rupert Murdoch’s sprawling media empire was in jeopardy.

Congress was on the verge of limiting any company from owning local television stations that reached more than 35 percent of American homes. Mr. Murdoch’s Fox stations reached nearly 39 percent, meaning he would have to sell some.

A strike force of Mr. Murdoch’s lobbyists joined other media companies in working on the issue. The White House backed the industry, and in a late-night meeting just before Thanksgiving, Congressional leaders agreed to raise the limit — to 39 percent.

One leader of the Congressional movement to limit ownership was Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. But in the end, he, too, agreed to the compromise. It turns out he had a business connection to Mr. Murdoch. Months before, HarperCollins, Mr. Murdoch’s publishing house, had signed a $250,000 book deal to publish Mr. Lott’s memoir, “Herding Cats,” records and interviews show.

An aide to Mr. Lott said the book deal had no bearing on the senator’s decision, and a spokesman for Mr. Murdoch chalked it up to coincidence. Still, the ownership fight showcases the confluence of business, political and media prowess that is central to the way Mr. Murdoch has built his global information conglomerate.

Raw Story notes,

The story is a fascinating one for New York's newspaper of record. As a massive investigative piece written by some of the Times' finest reporters and organized by the Times Managing Editor herself -- Jill Abramson -- it stands to have a major impact on a pending deal between Murdoch and the Times' New York competitor he is seeking to buy, The Wall Street Journal.

Also Monday, the Times reported that the family that controls the Wall Street Journal is close to agreeing on terms "designed to protect The Wall Street Journal’s newsroom independence if the company accepts a takeover bid from Mr. Murdoch."

The reporters note -- as if in warning -- "The sale would give Mr. Murdoch control of the pre-eminent journalistic authority on the world in which he is an active, aggressive participant. What worries his critics is that Mr. Murdoch will use The Journal, which has won many Pulitzer Prizes and has a sterling reputation for accuracy and fairness, as yet another tool to further his myriad financial and political agendas."