Top GOP investigator Rep. Issa open to probing Saudi ownership of Fox News

With FoxNews’s Neil Cavuto calling me a “warmist” today, this ThinkProgress repost seemed appropriate.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns the fourth largest stake in News Corp “” the parent company of Fox News “” making him the largest shareholder outside the family of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. According to the Financial Times, News Corp announced today that it is purchasing a $70 million dollar stake in Prince Alwaleed’s Rotana Media, a Middle Eastern music and news conglomerate. Boasting about the increased cooperation between the Murdoch empire and his own media corporation, Prince Alwaleed said, “This is a qualitative leap not just for Rotana but for the whole Arab world.” Because Prince Alwaleed has publicly acknowledged that he has forced Fox News to edit its coverage he disliked, conservative activists have attacked the business partnership as “really dangerous for America.”

At CPAC, ThinkProgress asked Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who serves as the top Republican investigator as the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, about the Saudi/Fox relationship. Issa said he was troubled in particular by foreign investors buying up American broadcasting companies. Asked specifically about Prince Alwaleed’s ownership of Fox News, Issa initially scoffed and assured us that he wasn’t worried because he “know[s] Rupert Murdoch.” But after being prodded about examples where Prince Alwaleed has indeed influenced Fox News coverage directly, Issa said he is open to holding an investigation of the network:

ISSA: Well I think foreign investment and foreign debt should be a concern to everyone. Those who buy trophy buildings or make contributions are probably less of a risk than those who ultimately own foreign national companies. And I would be most concerned with, I am most concerned about ownership of companies including broadcast companies by countries that may have another agenda.

TP: Well what do you think about Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, he’s one of the owners of Fox News. He owns the largest stake in News Corp. outside the Murdoch family.

ISSA: Well, I know Rupert Murdoch so I would certainly say he signs onto Rupert’s agenda, not the other way around.

TP: He’s said in the past that he’s dictated their content and kind of bragged about that. Is that a problem to you?

ISSA: Well, he obviously doesn’t when you watch Fox […]

TP: If evidence surfaces of bin Talal dictating their content more would you call for an investigation?

ISSA: Look, if you’ve got a single investigation I would suggest you turn it over to our people to look into. […] If you’ve got a specific bent, please turn it in for our committee on national security to work on, and I’d be happy to work on.

Watch it:

When Issa says Fox News’ coverage does not seem to reflect Prince Alwaleed’s agenda, he isn’t taking into account the Saudi billionaire’s full range of interests. For instance, Prince Alwaleed owns a $4.3 billion dollar stake in Citigroup, and has announced that he opposes President Obama’s financial reforms like the banker speculation tax. On Fox News, the bank tax and other financial reforms have been smeared with misinformation and outright lies.

In an interview with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto last month, Prince Alwaleed emphasized the importance of the “strategic alliance” of America’s reliance on Saudi oil. Other Saudi officials have called efforts to build a clean energy economy in America Saudi Arabia’s “biggest threat.” Although little is known about the extent to which Prince Alwaleed weighs in on Fox content, Fox News dedicates much of its coverage to attacking clean energy legislation that would lead to American energy independence. If clean energy legislation dies, America will continue to be a foreign oil-dependent nation, which would benefit Prince Alwaleed and other members of the Saudi royal family.

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27 Responses to Top GOP investigator Rep. Issa open to probing Saudi ownership of Fox News

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Rupert is an American?

  2. mike roddy says:

    If we keep buying Saudi Oil, and Newscorp has a bad streak, the Prince will be able to buy the whole company. Fox is going to do whatever the oil companies and banks tell them to do anyway, but allowing the Prince to edit content is a disgrace.

    It’s not just Fox. Remember when 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl toured the tar sands? Besides a few smiling and harmless questions, it was a total puff piece. I’d be interested in the background on that one. People like Mike Wallace just aren’t around any more these days. Even Dan Rather can’t get a job. This is really, really bad.

    Thanks for Climate Progress. I wish you could persuade a Democratic billionaire to buy or develop a network and become the Anti-Fox. It would be a good investment, too- media companies’ stocks are down these days, so there’s a big upside.

  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    Fox and You

    By “you” here, I mean everyone in the audience.

    It is time now, folks, to stop buying or watching ANYTHING Fox or NewsCorp.


    We complain about Fox, we complain about Beck and O’Reilly, we complain about Murdoch, and we complain about the recent Supreme Court ruling (that corporate entities are seen as being the same as individual people), but not enough people seem to exercise the basic influence of their own choices and spending.

    If you are still buying, or watching, anything from Fox or NewsCorp, examine your own choices, and stop complaining unless you also stop watching and buying.

    Also, at some point I think we should list the programs — and the stars on those programs — that are still part of the Fox and NewsCorp thing.

    I’m not joking folks. All of the “reasoning” and patient negotiation in the world will not speak as loudly or compellingly to many of our leaders and decision-makers as your withdrawal of your consuming purchase power — your dollars — will do.

    I have been seeing more and more of the ads (on TV) from the petroleum and gas folks, with the wonderful and credible-seeming lady, in the squeaky-clean environment, telling us how many millions and millions of jobs are dependent on oil and gas.

    People – we need to do something differently. It’s NOT WORKING.

    Can we agree that it’s NOT WORKING and that we have to do something differently?



  4. Roger says:

    I know what lady you mean, Jeff, and I can’t stand her either!

  5. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Jeff – Agreed, and agreed.

    Guerrilla postering is IMHO a tactic with huge potential for minimal costs,
    (A3 printers are common; flour & water paste works indoors, while Elmers glue is just tenacious in its grip outdoors)
    with a wide range of legality of sitings available for people to exercise their courage on.

    Content can be lifted from blogs etc to include cartoons, images and/or graphs with messages overlaid, etc. Adbusters would have some of the best expertise on content priorities.

    On a polite and respectable blog like this, that had better be my two-pennorth.



  6. Al Carbone says:

    Like The saudis own the largest interest in Citibank?
    Mohamar Ghadifi from Libya owns Fiat which took Chrysler?
    Like Jeorge Zoros owns sock puppet Joe Romm?
    Looks like dirt bags R us

  7. Anonymous says:

    I saw you on FOX today, and I have to say you truly give science zero credibility! You are another left wing loon that is using a scare tactic to regulate the lives of people in the U.S. Please do yourself a favor and the rest of science and don’t go on Fox anymore. Everything that you discussed today just showed more and more of the false argument of global warming! Wish you were here! Earth that is!

  8. villabolo says:

    Anonymous, no wonder you’re anonymous.

  9. toby says:


    Based on #7, you got under the skin of at least one wingnut, so you must have done ok.

  10. Jim Eaton says:


    To quote Tom Lehrer, “The out-patients are out in force tonight, I see.”

  11. fj2 says:

    re:”Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns the fourth largest stake in News Corp”

    sounds like treason; preventing the United States of American responding to the climate change crisis head-on the biggest threat to this country and the world as we know it.

  12. fj2 says:

    Murdoch should be brought before Congress to explain his understanding of global warming and his relationship with this Saudi prince.

  13. fj2 says:

    “News Corp. Buys 9 Percent of Mideast’s Rotana”

    Curious that NY Times does not give further detail.

  14. _Flin_ says:

    @Jeff Huggins 3: Other News Corp media include the “Wall Street Journal” and “The Times” (of London). Both are actively campainging against AGW.
    Like WSJ interviewing Lindzen (proof against AGW in his yet-to-be-published paper).

  15. David Smith says:

    In my line of work they say that ideas are cheap, but here’s one; You could add to this site an active list of entities that are being dishonest about the issue of climate change and those companies and individuals who support the effort through advertising support or whatever. There would have to be a standard by which entities were places on the list.

    I would gladly make purchasing decisions relative to this information but have difficulty keeping track of it all. You, Joe, have as good a knowledge of the players as anybody which makes this site an excellent place for such a posting. It should be on the main page. We, the consumers of your work could decide individually what to do with the information.

    Idea #2; Allowing people to contribute annonymously lowers the quality of the discourse and some times renders it useless. Can you require contributers to identify themselves and their interest in order to join the discussion.

    I think one of the greatest dangers in the present dynamic is that actual meaningful conversation is not taking place in the public forum.

  16. Zan says:

    Awesome reporting, Joe!

  17. Al Carbone says:

    ABC is laying off 25% Guess Fox is catching market share.

  18. Jeff Huggins says:

    Regarding David Smith’s idea (in Comment 15):

    I would happily and gladly and energetically contribute to such a list of companies that were being irresponsible, trying to fool us, trying to delay matters, and so forth.

    He’s right. There should be a clear, simple, credible list of such companies. For example, let’s list the Koch brands. Koch is one of the offending companies, and only a very few people understand the consumer brands that they sell. Indeed, some of the most concerned people (about climate change), who are upset at what some companies are doing with disinformation, probably have cupboards full of Koch products.

    Of course, the list would have to be clear and credible. In order to add a company or brand to the list, a person would have to provide a brief, credible, and clear explanation, ideally with a credible link to supporting information. The goal need not be to mention every single company that has some uncertain or nuanced activity that is problematic. One needn’t get into the questionable or uncertain cases in order to have a great list. In other words, the companies that are the largest culprits with respect to this matter are very clear, and it’s easy to substantiate whether one belongs on such a list or not. For example, there are ExxonMobil, Koch, Fox/NewsCorp, and some others. Having an impact on those companies alone would send a major message.

    So, we needn’t — and shouldn’t — think of such a list as needing to be overly complex, long, controversial, and comprehensive. Much better to name the companies that have shown themselves to be real, clear, and concerning problems, and then stop buying their products and services. A few of the biggies will do.



  19. adrian says:

    Excellent ideas, Jeff H. and David S. Or is this something that DeSmogBlog does or could do?

  20. Marie says:

    Yes, thanks again for your excellent reporting, Joe. I hope other news outlets pick up on this. It seems ripe for some investigative reporting and even a Pulitzer.

    Would also commit to use a boycott list, as others suggest.

  21. David Smith says:

    Maybe we should create a top ten list with entries across the economy. Consumer products, communications, Energy, etc. This might have broad impact and would make it clear that no sector is safe.

    Maybe ten is too many. We must focus on AGW and not other political issues.

  22. sasparilla says:

    In response to #1, Murdoch is an American citizen I believe – he’s originally from Australia, but got the American citizenship a long time ago to further some of his media buying deals (there are or used to be restrictions on foreign ownership of media companies in the US).

  23. David B. Benson says:

    sasparilla (22) — Thanks for the info,

  24. Mark Shapiro says:

    First, to any viewers from Fox who may be reading, Welcome! Stick around, read some of Joe’s favorite posts, and keep learning about the science with the rest of us.

    Australian born media billionaire Rupert Murdoch may be one of the most dangerous folks around. Selling fear, hatred, and ignorance is profitable. Every time you you see Beck, Hannity, Cavuto, O’Reilly, or the others say something outrageous, remember the man who gave him the audience and profited. Murdoch steers our politics into the gutter on many issues.

    So yes, boycott his products by all means.

  25. Fire Mountain says:

    Yes. Boycott all Fox products (exception for “The Simpsons” which has properly bit the hand that feeds them).

    So now we understand why F—s News is actively promoting policies that will keep the US hooked on imported oil. Don’t price carbon. Don’t support clean energy adoption. One of the major pushers is a major owner and he wants us to stay addicted to his junk. True patriots, those tea baggers over at F—s.

  26. Rick Covert says:

    Foreign ownership of the US media was abolished with the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which the Republican Congress pushed and President Clinton signed into law.

  27. Jeff Huggins says:

    Yes, Where?

    Where could we form a list of key companies and products that should be boycotted? Or, is there an excellent and credible list already?

    If we find a way to keep the list very focused on the central and obvious folks, and keep it entirely credible, and clean and well-done, then could CAP/ClimateProgress host the list, as a page or link here?

    An excellent list would not be hard to create, but it needs a place to “live” and “be”, where people could refer to it and we could keep it up to date (just in case one of the companies takes a U-Turn and becomes responsible).

    Joe, what is your suggestion? Can we create a list here?

    Any ideas?