Michael Luo and Tim Arango / The Age | April 3, 2008

A POPULAR parlour game in US political circles has been dissecting the shifting relationship between Rupert Murdoch, the conservative media mogul, and Hillary Clinton.

Two years ago Mr Murdoch not only endorsed Senator Clinton’s bid for a second Senate term in his New York Post newspaper, but also organised a fund-raiser for her. Recently, though, the relationship appears to have taken a turn for the worse.

Senator Clinton has been skewered in The Post in her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, and was recently taken to task over her claim that she had encountered sniper fire in a visit to Bosnia as first lady (she later said she had mis-spoken). The paper even ran an article, datelined Sarajevo, to debunk what one of its headlines labelled a low-blow lie.

Now another sign has emerged offering possible clues to Senator Clinton’s status: Mr Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth Murdoch, is holding a fund-raiser at her London home this month for Barack Obama, Senator Clinton’s rival for nomination by the Democrats.

Ms Murdoch, 39, who is Mr Murdoch’s second daughter, and who now runs her own media company, Shine Ltd, is one of several chairs for the April 28 event at her Notting Hill home.

Others include actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Swedish heiress Cristina Stenbeck and celebrity chef Ruthie Rogers.

A $US2300 ($A2533) contribution, the maximum for a primary campaign, offers access to the VIP reception; the main event requires a $US1000 donation.

Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation includes in its vast holdings the Fox News channel, The Post and, most recently, The Wall Street Journal.

Some of Mr Murdoch’s media outlets have been criticised for conservative bias, having made a sport over the years of tearing into former president Bill Clinton and Mrs Clinton.

But an analysis of campaign contributions from employees of News Corporation and its affiliates, including 20th Century Fox, Fox Sports and the like, reveals they skew heavily Democratic and towards Senator Clinton, who collected more than $100,000 in donations compared with about $80,000 for Mr Obama.

The Post endorsed Senator Obama before New York, New Jersey and other states voted on February 5, publishing a critical editorial on its front page that led media observers to declare the honeymoon was over for Mr Murdoch and Senator Clinton.

Many long-time Murdoch observers have noted that he is above all a pragmatist, who has a history of supporting candidates who could potentially help his financial bottom line, regardless of party affiliation.

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