Corporate campaign donations, a quarter later
After the January 6 riot at the Capitol, scores of companies vowed to pause their political donations. Some stopped giving to all politicians, while others shunned only those 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the presidential election results. A recent deadline for candidates to release fund-raising details for the first quarter revealed more details about how corporate giving has changed.
Companies largely kept their word. Only a handful of corporate PACs gave to the Republican objectors, whose total corporate and industry PAC donations dropped precipitously in the first quarter versus the comparable period in the last election cycle. The losers include powerful party leaders like the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, whose two PAC donations came from the California Beet Growers Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. Mr. McCarthy had more than 100 donations from business groups in the same period in 2017.
But there are shades of gray. Some companies gave money to specific Republicans, taking the view that not all of the 147 lawmakers are the same, a stance adopted by the Chamber of Commerce (and one that DealBook hears is being contemplated by other PACs).
Toyota gave to more than a dozen of the Republicans who voted against certifying the election results. A company spokesperson said Toyota “does not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification.” The company decided against giving to unspecified others, who “through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.” After the Capitol riot, the company said it would assess its “future PAC criteria,” a more vague pledge than those of many other companies.
Cigna gave to Florida’s Byron Donalds, South Carolina’s Tom Rice and other House members after it said in January it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered the peaceful transition of power.” A spokesperson for the insurer said that congressional votes are “by definition, part of the peaceful transition of power,” and that its cutoff of donations “applies to those who incited violence or actively sought to obstruct the peaceful transition of power through words and other efforts.”
Lawmakers at the forefront of the push to overturn the election raked in cash from other sources. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas each brought in more than $3 million for the quarter, tapping into the outrage of their individual supporters. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia similarly raised $3.2 million, more than nearly every other member of House leadership. The financial haul for those with the loudest and most extreme voices, against the backdrop of the corporate pullback, highlights a shift in the Republican Party’s longtime coziness with corporate America. It also raises questions about big business’s ability to influence policy, as pressure builds on companies to weigh in on hot-button issues like restrictions on voting.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
A decision on the pause to Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine could come soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he expected federal health officials to decide whether to resume giving the shot as soon as Friday. The halt was reportedly imposed because of concerns that doctors would mistreat the rare instances of blood clots potentially related to the shot, according to The Wall Street Journal.
coalescing around 25 percent as the new rate, according to Axios — down from the 28 percent that President Biden has proposed, but up from the current 21 percent.
Crypto prices take a tumble. Over the weekend, cryptocurrencies suffered a big drop in value: Bitcoin, for instance, fell 15 percent. (It has since recovered somewhat.) The potential culprits: speculation about impending enforcement actions by financial regulators and power outages in the Chinese region that is home to major Bitcoin mining operations. Or crypto is just being volatile again.
selling his stake in Ant Group, the fintech company he co-founded, according to Reuters. The deliberations come amid pressure from Beijing officials on his business empire, including Ant and Alibaba.
withdrew after deciding it would be too difficult to turn The Chicago Tribune into a national publication, The Times’s Katie Robertson writes.
The big money behind European soccer’s huge rift
A dozen of the top European clubs announced plans to create a new soccer league that would rival the longstanding Champions League, The Times’s Tariq Panja reports. The plan could concentrate the billion-dollar sport’s economics with just a handful of teams — if it survives the potential legal challenges.
Meet the Super League. Twelve teams so far have signed up for the new league, which was hatched in secrecy over several months. Among them are Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United of England; Real Madrid and Barcelona of Spain; and AC Milan and Juventus of Italy. (A few more teams are expected to join.) The idea is for the league to hold exclusive midweek matches in between domestic league matches. The closed league would operate more like the N.F.L. or the N.B.A., doing away with different teams appearing in the pan-European Champions League tournament each year, based on their domestic league performance.
There’s a huge amount of money at stake. The Super League’s founding clubs would split 3.5 billion euros, or more than $4 billion, as part of its formation, or more than $400 million per team. That’s four times what the Champions League winner took home last year.
The news spurred an outcry from the establishment. The organizer of the Champions League, UEFA, criticized the proposal as a “cynical project” and has been exploring ways to block it. The governing body of European soccer also noted that FIFA, the global soccer governing body, has threatened to expel players who participate in unsanctioned leagues from tournaments like the World Cup.
“The Fed has become more emboldened to discuss issues that have an economic impact, even when they fall into areas of partisan disagreement.”
— The Times’s Jeanna Smialek, on how the U.S. central bank is facing criticism as it wades into climate and racial equity issues, leading some to question its political independence.
increase in investor demand for company disclosures on things like climate-related risks, board and leadership diversity and political donations. Most recently, it issued a risk alert about the “lack of standardized and precise” definitions of E.S.G. products and services, which could lead to confusion among investors and inconsistent reporting by companies.
We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Months after the inauguration of President Biden, One America News Network, a right-wing cable news channel available in some 35 million households, has continued to broadcast segments questioning the validity of the 2020 presidential election.
“There’s still serious doubts about who’s actually president,” the OAN correspondent Pearson Sharp said in a March 28 report.
That segment was one in a spate of similar reports from a channel that has become a kind of Trump TV for the post-Trump age, an outlet whose reporting has aligned with the former president’s grievances at a time when he is barred from major social media platforms.
Some of OAN’s coverage has not had the full support of the staff. In interviews with 18 current and former OAN newsroom employees, 16 said the channel had broadcast reports that they considered misleading, inaccurate or untrue.
The channel did not broadcast live coverage of Mr. Biden’s swearing-in ceremony and Inaugural Address. Into April, news articles on the OAN website consistently referred to Donald J. Trump as “President Trump” and to President Biden as just “Joe Biden” or “Biden.” That practice is not followed by other news organizations, including the OAN competitor Newsmax, a conservative cable channel and news site.
OAN has also promoted the debunked theory that the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 were left-wing agitators. Toward the end of a March 4 news segment that described the attack as the work of “antifa” and “anti-Trump extremists” — and referred to the president as “Beijing Biden” — Mr. Sharp said, “History will show it was the Democrats, and not the Republicans, who called for this violence.” Investigations have found no evidence that people who identify with antifa, a loose collective of antifascist activists, were involved in the Capitol riot.
Charles Herring, the president of Herring Networks, the company that owns OAN, defended the reports casting doubt on the election. “Based on our investigations, voter irregularities clearly took place in the November 2020 election,” he said. “The real question is to what extent.”
Herring Networks was founded by Mr. Herring’s father, the tech entrepreneur Robert Herring, who at age 79 runs OAN with Charles and another son, Robert Jr. About 150 employees work for the channel at its headquarters in San Diego.
Pew Research reported that 7 percent of Americans, including 14 percent of Republicans, had gotten political news from OAN. By contrast, 43 percent of Americans and 62 percent of Republicans had gotten political news from Fox News, the survey found.
a Reuters/Ipsos poll last month, about half of Republicans said they believed that the Jan. 6 attack, which left five dead, was largely a nonviolent protest or was the handiwork of left-wing activists. Six in 10 of Republicans surveyed said they also believed Mr. Trump’s claim that the election was “stolen.”
OAN, which started in 2013, gained attention when it broadcast Mr. Trump’s campaign speeches in full before the 2016 election. In recent months, it has courted viewers who may have felt abandoned by Fox News, which on election night was the first news outlet to project Mr. Biden as the winner of Arizona, a key swing state. In a mid-November promotional ad, OAN accused Fox News of joining “the mainstream media in censoring factual reporting.”
OAN’s stories “appeal to people who want to believe that the election was not legitimate,” said Stephanie L. Edgerly, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. “These are two mutually reinforcing narratives of people who want to believe it and continue to get that fire stoked by OAN.”
report in May on the pandemic, Mr. Rouz said Covid-19 might have started as a “globalist conspiracy to establish sweeping population control,” one that had ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, the billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates, and “the deep state.”
Ms. Britton, the former OAN producer, recalled checking a website that Mr. Rouz had cited to back some of his reporting. “It literally took me to this chat room where it’s just conservatives commenting toward each other,” she said.
In an email to staff last month, Ms. Oakley, the news director, warned producers against ignoring or playing down Mr. Rouz’s work. “His stories should be considered ‘H stories’ and treated as such,” she wrote in the email, which The Times reviewed. “These stories are often slugged and copy-edited by ME as per Mr. H’s instructions.”
OAN’s online audience is significant, with nearly 1.5 million subscribers to its YouTube channel. One of its most popular videos, with about 1.5 million views since it went online Nov. 24, criticized Dominion Voting Systems, the election technology company whose equipment was used in more than two dozen states last year, including several won by Mr. Trump. Hosted by the OAN White House correspondent, Chanel Rion, the video shows a man who said he had infiltrated Dominion and heard company executives say they would “make sure” Mr. Trump lost.
Dominion has sued Fox News and two of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, accusing them of making or promoting defamatory claims. A lawyer for Dominion, who did not reply to requests for comment, has said the company is considering further legal action.
Mr. Golingan, the producer, said some OAN employees had hoped Dominion would sue the channel. “A lot of people said, ‘This is insane, and maybe if they sue us, we’ll stop putting stories like this out,’” he said.
Weeks after Dominion filed its first defamation suits, OAN broadcast a two-hour video in which the chief executive of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, made his case that widespread voter fraud had occurred. YouTube removed the video the day it was posted, saying it violated the platform’s election integrity policy. Last month, an OAN report described Dominion’s “voting machines” as “notorious.”
Two of the current and former employees interviewed for this article — Dan Ball, a talk-show host, and Neil W. McCabe, a former reporter — described OAN’s coverage as unbiased. Mr. McCabe, who now writes for The Tennessee Star, said the network gave a “voice to people that are just not covered.”
Susan Beachy contributed research.