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Murdoch to host fundraiser for Hillary Clinton

Caroline Daniel / FT | May 9 2006

Rupert Murdoch, the conservative media mogul whose New York Post tabloid savaged Hillary Clinton’s initial aspirations to become a US senator for New York, has agreed to host a political fundraiser for her re-election campaign.

The decision underlines an incongruous thawing of relations between Mr Murdoch and Mrs Clinton, who in 1998 coined the phrase “vast rightwing conspiracy” to denounce critics of her husband, such as Fox News, the conservative cable channel owned by Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Mr Murdoch will host the fundraiser, due to be held by July, on behalf of News Corp.

One person involved in the event said it reflected his views of her as a senator, rather than as a presidential candidate. “They have a respectful and cordial relationship. He has respect for the work she has done on behalf of New York. I wouldn’t say it was illustrative of a close ongoing relationship. It is not like they are dining out together.”

The decision reflects an assiduous courtship by Mrs Clinton and former President Bill Clinton. Last month Mrs Clinton surprised Washington by attending the “Fox News Sunday” 10th anniversary party, where she chatted with Mr Murdoch.

Mr Clinton has encouraged Mr Murdoch’s involvement with his Global Initiative and has invited him to speak again at the second forum in September. The former president will also address News Corp’s summer conference.

The fundraiser for Ms Clinton’s re-election is in stark contrast to the brutal coverage from the New York Post of her first Senate campaign.

The partisan tabloid ran unflattering pictures, and frontpage headlines pleading: “DON’T RUN”. A poll from the Post’s website during the campaign identified her as the sixth “most evil” person of the millennium, ahead of Benito Mussolini and Vlad the Impaler. Her husband ranked second.

One media lobbyist said: “Murdoch will be for the Republicans but he is also smart enough to know that the Republicans might not win. At some level, whether nationally or in New York, Hillary is the future and what savvy businessman would not want to put a line of interest in someone who will be the future?”

Mrs Clinton’s campaign office declined to comment.

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