Fox Executives Are Pouring Cash Into Joe Manchin’s Campaign

The West Virginia senator has appeared repeatedly on Fox News to chastise his Democratic colleagues as he considers a presidential run.

MANCHESTER, NH - JULY, 17: Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) was co-headliner alongside former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (R) at the 'Common Sense' Town Hall, an event sponsored by the bipartisan group No Labels, held on Monday evening, July 17, 2023 at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. The organization is looking for a potential 'unity' ticket for 2024, although Manchin has not announced whether he is seeking reelection for his Senate seat and has not ruled out a 2024 White House bid. Huntsman finished third in the New Hampshire presidential primary in 2012 behind then frontrunner and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). John Tully for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., at the “Common Sense” Town Hall, an event sponsored by the political group No Labels on July 17, 2023, at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Photo: John Tully for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Since the 2020 presidential election, when Democrats emerged with a razor-thin majority in the Senate, Joe Manchin has been no stranger to his Republican colleagues: schmoozing with them on his houseboat, meeting to discuss concerns about President Joe Biden’s massive spending packages, and proving a consistent ally in derailing the aspirations of both Blue Dog Democrats and left-wing progressives. 

As the Democrats’ critical 51st vote, the West Virginia senator has repeatedly taken to Fox News to warn his Democratic colleagues about the federal deficit and to air his grievances to the network’s conservative viewership. Manchin’s most recent financial disclosures suggest that those appearances are falling on receptive ears. 

The senator received tens of thousands of dollars from Fox executives and lawyers from April to June, according to his campaign’s July filing with the Federal Election Commission. Prior to that, Manchin had not received a donation from a Fox employee since 2018, when James Murdoch, son of media mogul and Fox Corporation Chair Rupert Murdoch, donated to Manchin. Fox’s political action committee also chipped in to the senator’s campaign in the spring. The donations follow an influx of cash from fossil fuel behemoths and the centrist political organization No Labels.

With over a decade in the Senate, Manchin has made clear he represents the most conservative wing of the Democratic Party, and donors have taken note. “A lot of donations are part of the buddy network. The world of extremely rich and influential people in the United States is kind of small,” Stan Oklobdzija, a political science professor at Tulane University, told The Intercept. “Manchin has been around on the Hill for a long time, he’s a known commodity. These donors probably come across Manchin, they like him, they see him as reliable, and want to keep him in office.”

Manchin’s office and campaign did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment. Fox did not directly respond to a question about its employees’ political giving and network coverage of Manchin. “FOXPAC supports candidates on both sides of the aisle,” Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti wrote in an email, pointing The Intercept to the company’s political activities policy. 

Manchin, who has not said whether he will run for reelection in 2024, has made increasingly bold overtures that he is considering a run for president as a third-party candidate. He has repeatedly said he won’t rule out a bid to place a moderate in the general election, a claim bolstered by his close affiliation with No Labels. 


No Labels Board Member: If MLK Were Alive Today, He’d Be Aligned With Joe Manchin and No Labels

Appearing at a No Labels event in Manchester, New Hampshire, last month, Manchin took the stage with Jon Huntsman Jr., Utah’s former Republican governor, to lay out the group’s plan for 2024. According to Manchin and No Labels, they will only run a candidate if they believe Biden has not significantly moderated his political positions to their conservative liking in the months leading up to the election. 

“I’ve never been in any race I’ve ever spoiled.” Manchin said at the event. “I’ve been in races to win. And if I get in a race, I’m going to win,”

Despite that promise, liberal activist groups have harshly condemned the No Labels plan, pointing to polling that shows that a third-party run would unequivocally benefit Donald Trump’s reelection chances.

In a testament to his dissatisfaction with the current administration, Manchin often takes to Fox News to lash out at Biden, including in June when he attacked him over his initiatives to spur green energy investments. “You cannot eliminate your way to a cleaner environment,” Manchin told Fox News Digital. “It’s not going to work. It’s not feasible. It won’t be done. The rest of the world won’t follow and Asia is going to produce about 90% of all pollution in the next 10 years. It’s where all the pollution is coming from. Innovation is the only way to go. If you want a clean environment, then you have to do it through technology and innovation.” 

The donations to Manchin came from across the Fox corporate umbrella. Among the executives slinging cash to the senior senator from West Virginia are Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations, who donated $3,300 in May, alongside Stephen Brown, another Fox TV executive who gave the same amount. Michael Mulvihill, a Fox Sports president of insights and analytics, gave $1,500, while Fernando Szew, the CEO of Fox Entertainment Global, gave $1,000. Fox senior vice president for digital policy and strategy Adrian Farley donated $6,600, as did Jamie Gillespie, Fox Corporation’s executive vice president of government relations. 

A number of attorneys for Fox Corporation gave a combined $11,350 to Manchin: Elizabeth Casey, executive vice president and deputy general counsel; Joe Di Scipio, senior vice president, FCC legal and business affairs, and assistant general counsel; Viet Dinh, chief legal and policy officer; Tim Lykowski, head of labor and employment; and Adam Reiss, executive vice president and deputy general counsel. Chris Reed, executive vice president of legal affairs at Fox Television Stations, also chipped in $1,000.

The Fox Corporation political action committee, meanwhile, gave Manchin $8,500, bringing the total donations to $43,150. In 2022, the Fox committee’s largest contributions went to the Republican and Democratic senatorial campaign committees, at $20,000 a piece. 

While Manchin has painted himself as a middle-of-the-road politician who can appeal to sensible centrists on both sides of the aisle, his polling numbers in West Virginia suggest otherwise. A May poll shows Manchin trailing his likely Republican challenger for Senate, Gov. Jim Justice, by 22 percentage points. Meanwhile, national polling consistently ranks Manchin as the second most unpopular senator, one rung below Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

In June, David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, said Manchin was “a dead man walking” in West Virginia. Manchin didn’t let the comment slide. 

“This is a funny comment about polls since the same smart pollsters said Barack Obama’s poll numbers proved he had no chance against Hilary Clinton, Donald Trump could never win the first election, and Republicans would win huge in 2022,” a Manchin spokesperson said in response. “Senator Manchin’s focus is on doing the best job for West Virginia and the American people. The only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.”

He made those remarks to Fox News.

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