In a new lawsuit, former book publisher Judith Regan, who ran HarperCollins, claims that an unnamed executive at her parent-company, News Corporation, “encouraged her to lie to federal investigators about her past affair with Bernard B. Kerik.” Regan says the “executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of Rudolph W. Giuliani.”
Though a News Corp. spokesperson dismissed the lawsuit as having “no merit,” Giuliani and the company — specifically its subsidiary Fox News — have a long-history of friendship and preferential treatment. In fact, Fox’s start was directly aided by Giuliani when, as mayor of New York City, he “intervened” after the company was “blocked from securing a cable station in the city”:
In 1996, when Mr. Ailes and Rupert Murdoch started Fox News, Mr. Giuliani intervened as mayor after Time Warner cable refused to carry the new station in the city. Time Warner, which had 1.1 million subscribers in the city, said it had room for only one more news station, which it had just awarded to MSNBC.
Fox accused Time Warner of trying to protect CNN, which Time Warner was buying. On Sept. 20, 1996, Mr. Ailes called Mr. Giuliani to ask for help. A flurry of meetings followed, but Time Warner did not budge. Three weeks later, the Giuliani administration said it would broadcast Fox News on a municipal-run station, citing the benefits of offering diverse news sources and protecting the 600 jobs Fox had created. [...]
But a federal judge blocked his plan, calling it “special advocacy” to “reward a friend and to further a particular viewpoint.” The companies came to terms the next year.
As the New York Times noted in August, that friendly relationship has resulted in lopsided, favorable coverage by the cable news channel of Giuliani’s presidential campaign:
So far this year, one political journal found, Mr. Giuliani has logged more time on Fox interview programs than any other candidate. Most of the time has been spent with Sean Hannity, an acknowledged admirer of the former mayor, according to the data compiled by the journal, known as The Hotline. [...]
Mr. Giuliani’s on-air time on Fox was 25 percent greater than that of his Republican competitor Mitt Romney, and nearly double that of Senator John McCain of Arizona. Fred D. Thompson, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, came in second to Mr. Giuliani with 101 minutes of Fox interviews.
Fox’s Hannity, who has a prime-time show Monday through Friday and an hour-long show on Sunday nights, is such a big Giuliani booster that he has even taken to helping the former mayor raise money by introducing him at a fundraiser in Ohio.
Most recently, Fox’s Neil Cavuto hosted Giuliani for an “exclusive” interview in which Cavuto endearingly referred to Giuliani as “America’s Mayor.”
UPDATE: In July, the New York Daily News reported that Regan has “secret tapes of phone calls” between herself and News Corp. executives.