Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns a 7 percent stake in News Corp — the parent company of Fox News — making him the largest shareholder outside the family of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch. Alwaleed has grown close with the Murdoch enterprise, recently endorsing James Murdoch to succeed his father and creating a content-sharing agreement with Fox News for his own media conglomerate, Rotana.
Last weekend, at the right-wing Constitutional Coalition’s annual conference in St. Louis, Joseph Farah, publisher of the far right WorldNetDaily, blasted Fox News for its relationship with Alwaleed. Farah noted correctly that Alwaleed had boasted in the past about forcing Fox News to change its content relating to its coverage of riots in Paris, and warned that such foreign ownership of American media is “really dangerous.” ThinkProgress was at the speech and observed attendees of the conference murmuring and shaking their heads in disapproval:
FARAH: There’s a flaw, a real compromise in Fox that you need to understand. And if you care about national security, you especially need to be attentive to it. And that is that Fox News parent company is News Corp has a significant ownership by a Saudi prince that many of you will be familiar with because right after 9/11 this prince very famously offered Rudolph Giuliani a big multi-million dollar check to rebuild and Giuliani told him to stick the check where the sun don’t shine because this guy was basically blaming America for what happened on 9/11. Well this guy owns a very significant percentage of the News Corp and has let the world know that he can get things taken off Fox News when he finds them objectionable and has in the past. And I really believe this is really dangerous for America.
ThinkProgess spoke to right-wing author Brigitte Gabriel, another speaker at the conference, who said that Alwaleed was recently interviewed by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto. Gabriel angrily denounced the interview as a “darling high school reunion”: “All of the sudden, Neil Cavuto is interviewing him like a buddy-buddy because he is the boss.” Indeed, in the “rare” interview Alwaleed gave last month, he reaffirmed his “alliance” with the Murdoch family and told Cavuto why he has a personal stake in influencing American politics:
– On continuing America’s dependence on fossil fuels, Saudia Arabian oil: “Saudi Arabia’s strategic alliance with the United States will continue and as a derivative of that, the link with the oil between oil and dollars is there. The bulk of our GDP, the bulk of budget comes from oil and oil is still a dollar based commodity.” As Media Matters has documented, Fox News is a reliable source of misinformation on clean energy, and has aggressively attacked efforts to move America away from a fossil fuel dependent economy.
– On opposing financial reforms, bank responsibility fee: “In a way I’m conflicted because I’m invested in Citigroup but at the more global picture, I’m a big supporter of the United States. I believe taxing the banks right now is not the right thing at all. It’s like you have a patient coming out of an ICU.” Alwaleed owns a $4.3 billion dollars stake in Citigroup, a massive bank that spent millions lobbying against financial reform last year.
With the Citizens United Supreme Court decision essentially freeing corporations to spend unlimited amounts in campaigns, theoretically Alwaleed can pressure the American corporations he owns stock in to spend millions — or even billions — of dollars attacking candidates he opposes. In addition to his powerful Fox News outlet, Alwaleed and other foreign investors have potentially unprecedented power to impact American elections.