At an annual shareholders meeting yesterday, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch said that his political donations to Republican political entities like the Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors Association are “in the best interest of the country.” He also claimed that the donations have “nothing to do with the editorial policies or the journalism” that his company provides.
Media Matters, which posted audio and a transcript of the shareholders meeting, reports that — when asked directly about whether he would engage shareholders in the process of selecting recipients of political donations — Murdoch dismissively said, “No”:
STOCKHOLDER: And going forward, then, would you be willing to have greater disclosure to shareholders around political contributions, both the policies and the actual dollar amounts? It’s particularly troubling to shareholders that, in particular, the U.S. Chamber contribution was only learned of by shareholders because of a leak to the press. Would the board consider much broader disclosure around shareholder — around political spending?
MURDOCH: We’ve considered it from time to time. I don’t believe we’ll [inaudible] it again, but we’ll see.
STOCKHOLDER: Would you be willing to engage shareholders in that process?
MURDOCH: No. Sorry, you have the right to vote us off the board if you don’t like that.
As ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser wrote recently, “There actually are laws against corporate managers treating a publicly-traded corporation as if it were their own personal bank account.” During yesterday’s call, one of the shareholders asked Sir Roderick Eddington, chairman of News Corp’s audit board, to justify Murdoch’s donations. Eddington’s answer didn’t inspire much confidence, suggesting it defers to Murdoch’s decision-making: “The board takes advice from the management team and considers it on that basis, and also refers it to the company’s general counsel, and on that basis the donations were made. I understand the concerns.” Listen here: