Former politicians who have been paid by the Murdoch empire

May 27, 2024

This list tracks almost 50 former politicians who have been paid by the Murdoch empire after they got into elected office, whether it be book deals, legal settlements, contributor arrangements, director fees or lobbying. There will be many more. Please send additional suggestions to or by Twitter DM to @maynereport

Tony Abbott: the former Australian Prime Minister worked for Murdoch's The Australian before entering Federal Parliament and in 2023 took on a Murdoch-funded podcasting gig with his old chief of staff, Peta Credlin, according to The Australian. The chaotic right wing culture warrior struggled to get a gig for the first 4 years after losing his seat of Warringah to Zali Steggall in 2019 then old mate Lachlan Murdoch rescued him again on the day after Rupert's retirement from the Fox board was disclosed, announcing him as a new director to replace former BHP chairman Jac Nasser at the November AGM.

Kelly Ayotte: represented New Hampshire in the US Senate for 6 years until 2017 and was chosen by John McCain to do a bible reading at his 2018 memorial service. Ayotte was appointed by Rupert Murdoch to the News Corp board 3 months after being narrowly defeated by her Democrat rival in the 2016 Trump election.

Jose Maria Aznar: was the long serving President of Spain who backed the Iraq invasion in 2003 but then suffered a crushing electoral defeat in March 2004. Was appointed to the News Corp board in June 2006, where he has remained for the past 17 years, pocketing more than $4 million, including $US352,204 in 2021-22 (see page 23 of proxy statement).

Peter Beattie: the former Queensland Labor premier became a paid Sky News commentator. Indeed, it is a gig he's had since 2015 and is front and centre on his Linkedin profile.

Cory Bernardi: the former renegade right wing Liberal was given his own Friday night show on Sky News after leaving Parliament, which is also delivered by Podcast.

Bronwyn Bishop: former federal Liberal minister and speaker is now a paid Sky News commentator. Turns 81 on October 19 2023 and this is her last major gig in a long political career.

David Blunkett: the former British Labour MP resigned as home secretary in 2004 after The News of The World hacked his phone and revealed he was having an affair. Received an undisclosed settlement in 2011.

Chris Bryant:
former Labor Party MP in the UK who received a settlement of 30,000 pounds, plus costs, for having his phone hacked. Along with Tom Watson, led Labor's push for phone hacking accountability.

Ross Cameron: former federal Liberal MP who appeared regularly on Sky News until getting the sack in 2018 over racist comments about Chinese people. Was one of the first moves made by Paul Whittaker after taking over as CEO.

Elaine Chao: quit in disgust as Trump's Transport Secretary after the January 6 insurrection and whilst some of the coverage mentioned she is married to Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, it went unremarked that she had previously served under Rupert for five years as an independent director of 21st Century Fox.

Stephen Conroy: former Labor Party senator in Australia and Federal Communications Minister who became a paid contributor on Sky News less than a year after retiring from politics, despite being a long-time critic of News Corp. The 2017 press release also noted that he'd formed a lobby group for foreign bookmakers, which he chaired.

Peter Costello: Former federal treasurer and deputy Liberal Party leader in Australia who was paid to write columns for the Murdoch tabloids before giving them up when he joined the Nine board in 2013 and later became chairman from 2016.

Alexander Downer: John Howard's long-serving Foreign Minister is often interviewed by his former staffer Chris Kenny on Sky News, although that may be unpaid. However, he was paid for his early columns in The Advertiser after the Howard Government was defeated in 2014, such as this 2014 effort on homelessness. Has spent much of the past decade in London but has recently returned to Adelaide and may be looking for another paid Murdoch gig.

Craig Emerson: the former Bob Hawke adviser and Gillard Government Minister resigned as a paid Sky News commentator in 2018 in protest over Blair Cottrell getting a run.

George Galloway: former British MP and anti-war campaigner who settled for 25,000 pounds, plus costs, after his phone was hacked at the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003.

Newt Gingrich: the former Republican House Speaker landed a $US4.5 million dollar book with Harper Collins, just as Congress was looking to redraw media ownership laws. Murdoch fired the book's editor for the Gingrich deal, saying it was uneconomical, but Gingrich was later hired as a Fox News contributor.

Rudy Giuliani: former Republican mayor of New York whose law firm acted for News Corp over the years.

Michael Gove:
the former senior Tory Cabinet Minister returned to The Times as a book reviewer and columnist and even invited Rupert Murdoch into the room when he interviewed Donald Trump in 2017.

Chuck Hagel: the former US Defence Secretary was paid by Harper Collins to write "America our next chapter".

William Hague: proving that Rupert was happy to invest heavily in serving politicians, former Tory Leader William Hague disclosed that he was earning almost 200,000 pounds a year for his News of the World columns after his failed 4 year stint as Opposition leader during the Blair years. When Hague later became David Cameron's Foreign Secretary and subsequently House Speaker, he served with the knowledge that Rupert had handsomely rewarded his earlier journalistic services.

Gary Hardgrave:
former LNP Federal politician from Queensland who picked up his own Friday night show on Sky News after leaving Parliament in 2016, plus appeared regularly on Sky panels.

Bob Hawke: received many defamation settlements up until his resignation from Parliament, with some of these proceeds coming from News Corp over the years.

John Howard
: personally negotiated the reported $400,000 advance from Harper Collins for his memoir without the use of an agent.

Mike Huckabee: the former Baptist pastor, Arkansas governor and two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination has chalked up seven years on the Fox News payroll, pocketing millions along the way.

Simon Hughes: the former Liberal Democrat MP in the UK received a substantial sum in damages in 2021 after claiming his phone had been hacked by The Sun during a time that the tabloid was being edited by Rebekah Brooks, the current News UK chief executive. The company continues to deny his accusation that any phone hacking took place at The Sun but decided to settle rather than fight the case in open court.

Senator Kay Hutchison: spent 20 years as a Republican senator and Harpers published her book "American Heroines" in 2006 when the Texas Senator was sitting on one of key committees that monitored the media.

Tessa Jowell: the former Labour cabinet minister had her phone hacked 29 times in five months in 2006 at the time her former husband, David Mills, was under pressure over ties to Silvio Berlusconi. Reached a 200,000 pound settlement in 2011.

Kristina Keneally: former NSW Labor premier who quit the state Parliament in 2012 and joined Sky News in 2014 until she became a Federal Senator in 2018. She hosted 4 shows during her stint at Sky, including Credlin-Keneally, which was touted as the first Sky show fronted by two women. She also co-hosted programs The Cabinet, Keneally and Cameron and To The Point with Peter van Onselen.

Jeff Kennett: former Victorian Liberal Party premier who has received defamation payments from News Corp and more than $300,000 for his Herald Sun columns since leaving Parliament in 1999.

Cheryl Kernot: Harper Collins published her "Speaking for myself again" memoir in 2002, which famously came under attack from Laurie Oakes for omitting Cheryl's affair with Gareth Evans.

Mark Latham: former federal opposition leader turned NSW upper house rep for One Nation (now Independent) who has been off and on the Murdoch payroll through Sky News and The Daily Telegraph since the mid-1990s.

Stephen Loosley: former senator and national president of the ALP who has been a paid columnist for The Sunday Telegraph and The Australian, along with a News Corp strategic adviser.

Senator Trent Lott: according to Keith Olbermann, the Mississippi Republican's News Corp book deal to write "Trent Lott's Rise and Fall" happened just months before he backed down on a Congressional effort to limit media ownership to 35% of American homes, allowing that level to be set instead at 39%; the exact number of houses Mr Murdoch's TV interests reached at the time.

Denis MacShane: former British Labor MP and BBC journalist who served as Tony Blair's Minister for Europe and later received a phone-hacking settlement comprising 32,500 pounds, plus costs. His then partner, writer Joan Smith, told the Leveson inquiry that her phone was also hacked six weeks after the MP's daughter died.

Richard Marles: current Labor Defence Minister who co-hosted Pyne & Marles on Sky News when in Opposition. Also a former Herald Sun columnist when working for the ACTU.

Scott Morrison: the former Australian PM's 2024 book, Plans for Your Good, was published by HarperCollins.

Campbell Newman: former Queensland conservative Premier who went on to become a Sky News contributor before later defecting to the Liberal Democrats in 2022.

Mark Oaten: the former Liberal Democrat MP in the UK lost his job when his phone was hacked in 2006. He settled in 2011 and wrote about the experience again in 2014.

Chris Patten: got to keep his 50,000 pound advance from Harper Collins, which dropped the book chronicling his time as the last British governor of Hong Kong because Rupert felt the criticisms of China would damage his commercial interests.

Sarah Palin: Republican vice-presidential candidate in 2008 who was a paid Fox contributor from January 2010 until June 2015, earning up to US$1 million per year, as reported in The Los Angeles Times.

Mike Pompeo: Harper Collins published Donald Trump's former Secretary of State's 2023 book, Never Give An Inch.

John Prescott: former Labour deputy prime minister in the UK who received a phone-hacking settlement of 40,000 pounds, plus costs. Also sued the Metropolitan Police after they told Prescott repeatedly that he was not a victim of hacking despite having evidence his voicemail had been intercepted 45 times by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was at the time working for the News of the World.

Christopher Pyne: the long-serving Federal Liberal Minister appeared on the Marles and Pyne Sky News show when serving as a Minister pre-COVID and has continued on with News Corp as a paid columnist for The Advertiser since leaving Parliament in 2019, even appearing on the paper's "Our Journalists" page.

Peter Reith: the late former deputy Liberal leader and Defence Minister co-hosted a Sky News show with Peter Beattie.

Graham Richardson: former senator, federal minister and secretary of the NSW ALP who later had his own show on Sky News, alongside his Friday column in The Australian. Was also a long-term lobbyist for Kerry Packer.

Paul Ryan:
was Republican House speaker up until his retirement in January 2019, after which he was appointed to the slimmed down 7 person Fox Corp board two months later once the $90 billion Disney sale had completed.

Arlen Specter: served as a US Republican Senator from Pennsylvania from 1981 to 2011, albeit defecting to the Democrats in 2009. Ran for President in 1996 and chaired the House Judiciary Committee for a couple of years which was influential on media matters. Wrote multiple books, at least one of which was published by Harper Collins.

Claire Ward: former British Labour MP for Watford (1997-2010) who received a “substantial” settlement for phone-hacking, plus costs.

John Wheeldon: a former Labor Senator from WA who served from 1965 until 1981 and was a Minister in the Whitlam Government. In 1980, while part of Australia's delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, Wheeldon rekindled an old friendship with Rupert Murdoch, who offered him a position as Associate Editor of The Australian newspaper. Wheeldon was chief editorial writer for The Australian from 1981 to 1995.