Murdoch Speaks (But Not About Hillary)

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch had much to brag about to conservatives Tuesday night during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. But the one topic on everyone’s mind—Murdoch’s raising money for Sen. Hillary Clinton—was conveniently left out of the speech and explicitly avoided even in casual conservation.

The Drudge Report splashed Murdoch’s photo and a headline—“MURDOCH TO HOST FUNDRAISER FOR HILLARY CLINTON”—across the page in extra-large type yesterday. The news was the talk of the town, leading some pundits to speculate that Murdoch was making a strategic move similar to his embrace of Tony Blair over conservatives in Great Britain.

During a pre-dinner reception before Murdoch was honored with the Phillips Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, he entertained and chatted with some of the conservative movement’s most recognizable players. But everyone I talked to said they were either too nervous or simply too afraid to bring up the Hillary question.

When I told one attendee I planned to corner Murdoch and ask him about it, he suggested I avoid interacting with the News Corp. chairman for fear of angering the honored guest.

During his speech to the room of 200—who were honoring eight recipients of the Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellowship Awards—Murdoch encouraged the young journalists to “strive to be objective,” telling them that Fox News’ motto of “We report, you decide,” was what has made it the No. 1 cable news for 52 straight months.

“The truth is out there,” Murdoch said. “Go find it.”

Murdoch cited as an example the reporting of Fox News’ Eric Shawn and the Wall Street Journal’s Claudia Rosett on the United Nations oil-for-food scandal. He said it represented stellar journalism.

Murdoch used the opportunity to jab other TV networks, saying Fox News has never had to fire an anchor or producer (unlike CBS News) and hasn’t retracted a major story in 10 years.

Following his speech (and a beautiful rendition of God Bless America by vocalist Randall Phillips), I made my way to the front of the room to ask the question no one else would dare pose to Murdoch: What are conservatives to make of his raising money for Hillary?

Alas, I was too late. Murdoch made a dash for the door, avoiding any chit-chat (or tough questions) after the program. The truth is still out there, Mr. Murdoch, and I want to find out just why you’re befriending Hillary.