Did CEOs of CNN, NBC and New York Times Donate to Trump?

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Claim:

The CEOs of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and The New York Times, as well as the owners of The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, have all donated to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaigns.

On July 6, 2024, X user @LilHulkQ created a post (archived) that began, “The media’s anti-Biden noise isn’t an accident.” This claim referenced TV and print coverage from news organizations following U.S. President Joe Biden’s debate performance on June 27. The rest of the X post claimed the CEOs of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and The New York Times all donated to former President Donald Trump’s campaigns.

The meme appeared to make the same claim about Jeff Bezos in reference to The Washington Post, as well as Rupert Murdoch regarding The Wall Street Journal. As of June 8, the post displayed over 1.8 million views, 16,000 reposts and 31,000 likes.

Then, on July 7, the progressive Facebook page Occupy Democrats posted a meme created from the text originating in @LilHulkQ’s post. That meme displayed a credit to the X user. The meme received over 7,400 shares.

However, less than 24 hours later, the meme disappeared from the Occupy Democrats Facebook page. It appeared that a page manager removed the meme, perhaps because they discovered it was inaccurate. The original post link now displays the text, “This content isn’t available right now.”

Numerous other users posted the same claim on DailyKos.com, DemocraticUnderground.com, LipstickAlley.com, Substack, Threads and X.

Our research found no records of the CEOs or owners of those news organizations ever publicly disclosing direct donations to Trump’s campaigns. In some cases, records published by the nonpartisan political donation-tracking website OpenSecrets.org showed the referenced CEOs or owners gave money to organizations or political action committees (PACs). Those organizations and PACs later disclosed information in other records about some funds going to Trump or other Republican or Democratic political figures, sometimes including Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. No evidence showed such donations specifically came from funds provided by the eight CEOs or owners. 

We emailed Occupy Democrats to inquire about the removal of the “Trump donors” meme from Facebook. A spokesperson told us, “We removed it when we looked into it further and realized that some of the information in the tweet it was based on was inaccurate.”

Snopes contacted @LilHulkQ on X to ask for the user’s sources regarding each of the eight owners or CEOs providing donations to Trump. We will update this story if we receive a response.

CNN

London-born British business executive Mark Thompson is the CEO of CNN. On June 24, 2024, The New York Times reported Thompson “recently became a dual American citizen.” We uncovered no evidence of Thompson ever providing money to any American political campaigns.

ABC

Bob Iger is the CEO of The Walt Disney Company, which owns the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Britannica.com listed Iger as the chief executive of ABC. According to OpenSecrets.org, Iger donated money to Republican Party candidates between 2000 and 2007. The same website also said that, since 2008, Iger only donated to members of the Democratic Party. None of the donations listed for Iger mentioned Trump.

CBS

George Cheeks is the president and CEO of CBS. Wendy McMahon is the president and CEO of CBS News. A search of OpenSecrets.org for Cheeks’ name displayed past job titles and locations alongside records of donations only to Democrats. Search results for McMahon’s name found donations matching her past executive role with ABC under the umbrella of The Walt Disney Company, including when she donated to Biden’s campaign in 2020, but none went to Trump. (A different woman also named Wendy McMahon living in Florida appeared to account for the listed $6 donation to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.)

NBC and MSNBC

Cesar Conde is the chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group, including overseeing NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and other extensions of the organization’s news efforts. OpenSecrets.org listed no recent personal donations from Conde made specifically to Democrats or Republicans. Instead, the search results displayed donations to Comcast Corporation and the Univision Communications political action committee (PAC). (A different man also named Cesar Conde living in Florida appeared to account for the listed $100 donation to DeSantis.)

According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2016, records for Comcast Corp. reflected $604,784 in individuals’ donations (as opposed to organization donations) to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and $16,342 to Trump. In 2020, the PAC gave individuals’ donations amounting to $1,164,186 to Biden’s campaign and $123,756 to Trump’s. As of this writing, for the two candidates’ 2024 campaigns, the Comcast Corp. provided donations from individuals of $80,394 for Biden and $23,399 for Trump.

According to OpenSecrets.org, historically, the Univision Communications PAC’s donations heavily favored Democrats. The website did not mention donations going specifically to the Clinton, Trump or Biden campaigns.

The New York Times

Meredith Kopit Levien is the president and CEO of The New York Times Company. We located no past donations to Trump, Clinton or Biden via OpenSecrets.org.

The Washington Post and Jeff Bezos

The meme post on X correctly mentioned Bezos as the owner of The Washington Post. However, while OpenSecrets.org displayed a mixture of Bezos’ past donations to both Democrats and Republicans, no records showed he directly donated to Trump’s campaigns.

OpenSecrets.org listed some of Bezos’ donations as going to the organizations Amazon.com and Blue Origin.

In 2016, individuals associated with the Amazon.com organization gave $7,190 to Trump and $437,326 to Clinton. In 2020, Amazon.com’s donations skyrocketed, with Trump receiving $310,113 and Biden netting $2,467,610. As of this writing, for 2024, individuals with the organization gave $87,507 to Trump and $240,146 to Biden. Search results for Amazon.com’s political donations also displayed past results for many other Democrats, Republicans and PACs.

As for individuals’ donations with Blue Origin, the displayed numbers were far less substantial. In 2016, Trump received $40 and Clinton got $785. Biden received $38,924 in 2020, while the line item for Trump showed $3,910. As of this writing, for 2024, Biden showed donations worth $6,448, while Trump received $2,584.

The Wall Street Journal and Rupert Murdoch

The meme in question also specifically named The Wall Street Journal, as well as Murdoch. Dow Jones & Company owns the Journal. Murdoch’s News Corporation, a corporation historically associated with Fox Corporation and the conservative Fox News, owns Dow Jones. Murdoch stepped down from News Corp in 2023.

OpenSecrets.org listed no Murdoch donations specifically naming Trump. It did list numerous donations from Murdoch to other prominent Republican politicians. For example, three of Murdoch’s donations totaling $5 million from 2020, 2022 and 2023, went to the Senate Leadership Fund – a Republican super PAC concentrating specifically on the elections of U.S. Senate candidates.

Murdoch’s son and heir apparent, Lachlan Murdoch, serves as the executive chair and CEO of Fox Corporation. He also previously donated $1 million to the Senate Leadership Fund in 2020.

We will update this story if we receive further statements or information pertinent to this reporting.

Sources

Bauder, David. “CNN Names Mark Thompson, Former BBC and New York Times Executive, as Its New Leader.” The Associated Press, 30 Aug. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/cnn-chairman-thompson-bbc-times-4e7844028f5ccb7170212fb67e86ddb4.

Boak, Josh. “Biden’s Evolving Reasons for His Bad Debate: A Cold, Too Much Prep, Not Feeling Great and Jet Lag.” The Associated Press, 3 July 2024, https://apnews.com/article/biden-debate-explanation-excuse-cold-jet-lag-858cd34ca0fb6b76cf9e30b57f884548.

“Cesar Conde.” NBCUniversal Media, https://www.nbcuniversal.com/leadership/cesar-conde.

Darcy, Oliver. “Rupert Murdoch Officially Steps down from His Media Empire, Handing over the Reins to His Son Lachlan | CNN Business.” CNN, 15 Nov. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/15/media/rupert-murdoch-steps-down-reliable-sources/index.html.

Erickson, Harold L. “American Broadcasting Company.” Brittanica.com, https://www.britannica.com/money/American-Broadcasting-Company.

Grynbaum, Michael M. “In This Debate, CNN Is the Decider.” The New York Times, 24 June 2024, https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/24/business/media/cnn-presidential-debate.html.

Hamilton, David. “Who Is Lachlan Murdoch, Heir Apparent of Rupert Murdoch’s Media Empire?” PBS News via The Associated Press, 23 Sept. 2023, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/who-is-lachlan-murdoch-heir-apparent-of-rupert-murdochs-media-empire.

Kellner, Peter. “Mark Thompson.” Brittanica.com, https://www.britannica.com/money/Mark-Thompson.

Mullin, Benjamin, and Katie Robertson. “A Decade Ago, Jeff Bezos Bought a Newspaper. Now He’s Paying Attention to It Again.” The New York Times, 22 July 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/22/business/media/jeff-bezos-washington-post.html.

“OpenSecrets.” OpenSecrets, https://www.opensecrets.org/.

“Our People.” The New York Times Company, https://www.nytco.com/company/people/.

“Senate Leadership Fund.” Senate Leadership Fund, https://www.senateleadershipfund.org/.

“The Wall Street Journal.” Ballotpedia, https://ballotpedia.org/The_Wall_Street_Journal.

“Wendy McMahon.” CBS News, 14 Aug. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/team/wendy-mcmahon/.

“Wendy McMahon Named President and CEO of CBS News and Stations and CBS Media Ventures.” CBS News, 14 Aug. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wendy-mcmahon-named-president-ceo-cbs-news-stations-media-ventures/.

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