Democrats have taken more cash from Fox News' PAC than Republicans since 2018

“No one who wants to take money from Fox News or Rupert Murdoch should consider themselves a Democrat,” critic says

By Igor Derysh

Published February 25, 2022 5:25PM (EST)

Eric Swalwell, Chuck Schumer and Rupert Murdoch (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Eric Swalwell, Chuck Schumer and Rupert Murdoch (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Democrats have collected more donations from Fox News' political action committee than Republicans since 2018 despite frequently criticizing the network over its right-wing coverage.

Federal Democratic candidates received $13,000 more from the 21st Century Fox PAC, which collects donations from Fox News employees and other Fox entities, during the 2018 campaign cycle, according to OpenSecrets data, while Republicans slightly outpaced Democrats in the 2020 cycle, raising $96,500 compared to $91,000 for Democrats from the renamed FOX PAC.

The PAC's top contributor is Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch and other Fox executives also donate to the committee.

As the network downplays Russia's attack on Ukraine, pushes fake Democratic scandals, and attacks public health recommendations, some may be reconsidering. Insider reported earlier this week that five Democratic campaigns appeared to reject a combined $12,500 in donations from FOX PAC, including Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.; Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas; Peter Welch, D-Vt., Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and former Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who now serves as a senior adviser to President Joe Biden.

RELATED: Murdoch-backed Fox News corporate PAC donates to Sen. Joe Manchin's campaign

But it's not clear that these donations were actually rejected. The PAC's filing showed that the $1,500 December to Fletcher that was marked as "void" was "reissued" in February.

And Swalwell told The Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger that his campaign had a "bank fraud issue that delayed cashing of checks."

"That check was reissued and cashed, my team tells me," he told the outlet.

Swalwell defended accepting the PAC's donations, arguing that they help pay for security costs necessitated by the network's "lies" about him.

"On the larger issue, despite daily lies against me from Fox News, I've worked well with Fox Corp, which includes their studios and sports network," he said. "The lies of Fox News have cost my campaign thousands in personal security. The Fox Corp contributions help offset that."

Swalwell is one of 53 Democratic candidates to accept donations from the PAC during the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, according to the Daily Beast.

The top House recipient of the PAC's contributions in 2020 was Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who collected $7,500, the same amount the PAC donated to former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., whose loss tilted control of the Senate to the Democrats. Only Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., received more money from the group, banking the maximum allowed donation of $10,000.

The PAC also doled out $6,000 to Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and $5,000 checks to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

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Max Berger, a political operative that worked with the Justice Democrats and on Sen. Elizabeth Warren's, D-Mass., presidential campaign, told The Daily Beast it was a "damn shame" that Democrats are accepting money from Fox News.

"No one who wants to take money from Fox News or Rupert Murdoch should consider themselves a Democrat," he said. "Some establishment Democrats have gotten so used to taking money from odious sources like big Pharma and fossil fuel lobbyists that nothing seems too dirty."

Fox News frequently focuses its negative coverage on Democrats and members of the party often criticize the network as right-wing propaganda. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., last week accused host Tucker Carlson of "clear, targeted, libelous harassment that endangers people."

The network "drives so many violent threats" that people "have to fundraise for their own safety," she tweeted.

Democrats' relationship with Fox News has caused some internal party tension. Fox News is the most-watched cable network and recent Nielsen data showed that a surprisingly high number of Democrats prefer Carlson and Sean Hannity to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and other left-leaning shows. But the network also frequently pushes easily-debunked claims attacking Democrats and white nationalist talking points.

The tension has extended to whether Democrats should appear on the network at all. Democrats split on whether presidential candidates should have appeared on the network during the 2020 presidential primaries and a growing number of Democratic pundits have left the network in recent years as its roster has grown more Trumpy.

Journalist Oliver Willis, who previously worked at the media watchdog group Media Matters, has frequently criticized Democrats for appearing on the network and helping to enable "lies and deception," especially in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

"Start asking Democrats why they appear on Fox News," he tweeted. "Make them justify their role in helping to prop up America's leading source of white supremacist content."

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Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's Deputy News and Politics Editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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