A senior Democrat was asked Friday to withdraw his "false and slanderous" attack on a $4 million book deal negotiated by incoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The seven-figure contract drew criticism from House Majority Whip David Bonior and other Democrats as well as the White House because the New York publisher, HarperCollins, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has pending business before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress. Murdoch also owns the Fox Broadcasting Co.Fox executive Preston Padden, in a letter to Bonior, said he was "shocked" when the Michigan Democrat "issued a statement that was part of an orchestrated political campaign of slander and scurrilous attack" and requested the remarks be withdrawn.
Padden said Bonior had alleged that HarperCollins had made an uneconomic deal with Gingrich in return for Republican support for legislation to change U.S. law regarding foreign ownership of television stations.
"Your statement and coordinated comment by White House press secretary (Dee Dee) Myers were false and slanderous . . . those of us at Fox are not involved with the HarperCollins deal," Padden wrote.
He said Bonior was "absolutely wrong" in asserting that Fox was seeking a change in the foreign ownership law.