Is Fox News Passing Off Issue Advertising as News?

The answer would seem to be a resounding YES.

In five consecutive hours of live reports on Tuesday, a Fox Business correspondent, Adam Shapiro, was stationed at Cambridge of California, a small furniture manufacturing facility in Gardena. Mr. Shapiro repeatedly said the proposition could drive businesses — specifically small businesses, not media titans — out of California, and he said “332,000 jobs” were “on the line.”

Tracy Byrnes, the anchor for one of the reports, expressed the opinion that “the proposition was setting up businesses to be destroyed, quite frankly.”

Yet in its expanded coverage of the issue, Fox did not disclose the News Corporation’s donation to a group working to defeat Proposition 24. Nor did Fox report that the small-business man it featured in the news reports was asked to do the interview by the same group, No on 24 — Stop the Jobs Tax.

A Fox Business executive said he had not known about the parent company’s donation. Industry observers, however, said the News Corporation’s contribution to the group, and the organization’s role in arranging the interview, raised a potential conflict of interest that warranted disclosure.

The “parent company’s donation” in question is the $1.3 million Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has spent thus far to defeat California’s Proposition 24. As described on the California Voter Guide:

A YES vote on this measure means: Three business tax provisions will return to what they were before 2008 and 2009 law changes. As a result: (1) a business will be less able to deduct losses in one year against income in other years, (2) a multistate business will have its California income determined by a calculation using three factors, and (3) a business will not be able to share tax credits with related businesses.

So the question remains, is News Corp using it’s Fox Business broadcast network to shill for a political cause that will put money directly into their pocket? If this is the case, which it would seem it is, how is this possibly legal?

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