NewsCorp Hires Democrat Fixers To Torpedo Nielsen

10 August 2005

Those close to Rupert Murdoch report that he's constantly whistling the old Beatles hit, 'I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends'.

Never shy of buying influence from whichever quarter suits his book, the arch-rightist tycoon has hired a raft of Democratic Party fixers in his battle to block Nielsen Media Research's new ratings system, launched last year in four major television markets.

Murdoch believes the new system substantially underestimates the number of African-Americans and Hispanics watching shows such as Girlfriends and The Parkers currently running on the UPN network.

Paradoxically, UPN is owned not by News Corporation but by its TV rival Viacom. NewsCorp, however, own several major metropolitan stations that carry UPN broadcasts.

Murdoch wooing of liberal strategists is richly ironic, given that his Fox News Channel devotes much airtime to lambasting Democrats and any other political group its master perceives to be more than one degree to the left of Attila the Hun.

And proving that America boasts some of the best politicians money can buy, several influential Democrat strategists have flocked to the Murdoch flag.

They include Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Senator Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign; Al Gore advisor Mike Feldman; former political strategist Chris Lehane, who was close to President Bill Clinton; and Minyon Moore, co-founder of the liberal 'America Coming Together' group. This motley crew are currently proselytizing the NewsCorp cause in Washington's corridors of power.

To date this year, NewsCorp and its hired guns have poured nearly $100,000 in 'donations' to lawmakers of both parties who support proposed legislation that requires any new TV-ratings system to be approved by an industry board.

Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus alleges that Lachlan Murdoch threatened last year to destroy Nielsen's reputation and launch a competing ratings operation if Nielsen refused to make changes in its new system.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff