Senator Urges Rupert Murdoch Drop Coverage

Connecticut's Chris Murphy calls racing event a 'celebration of guns' and urges News Corp. topper to follow through on gun statements

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is asking News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch to abandon Fox Sports’ coverage this weekend of the The NRA 500, calling the NASCAR racing event a “celebration of guns.”

Murphy cited the race’s sponsorship by the National Rifle Assn., as well as a feature of the event that includes the live shooting of guns. The race on Saturday also takes place as the Senate debates legislation to expand background checks of gun buyers.

“This celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre,” Murphy wrote. “But most importantly, broadcasting this race, which will highlight the NRA and its radical agenda during this time, sends a harmful signal to the families affected by gun violence, as well as the millions of Americans who support sensible gun control measures and enjoy your sports programming.”

After the Newtown tragedy, Murdoch called for President Obama to take “bold leadership” on gun proposals, and the media mogul expressed support for a ban on assault weapons, noting that measures were passed in his native Australia after a shooting rampage. Murphy noted Murdoch’s gun control support in his letter, pleading, “By airing this race you will be strengthening the brand of a radical organization that is currently standing in the way of meaningful progress on this issue.”

Murphy went so far as to write that Fox’s showing of the race also would constitute its acceptance of the NRA’s views. “Given that you have been outspoken in your support of gun reform, it is the height of irony that some would perceive that your company would now essentially endorse the NRA’s extreme position against such laws by broadcasting this event,” he wrote.

Last month, Murphy wrote a letter to the CEO of NASCAR, Brian France, protesting the circuit’s connection to the event.

But Fox is under contract to show the race, and the naming rights to the event were arranged by the Texas Motor Speedway.

The broadcast networks, including Fox, refuse to take advertisements for guns and ammunition, and after the Newtown tragedy, Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable said that they would not accept such spots as part of their inventory.

A spokesman for Fox declined to comment.

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