Fox Corporation and News Corp | Rupert Murdoch passes the torch to his son Lachlan

(New York) At 92, the feared media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who influenced political life in the United Kingdom and the United States, will let go of the reins of his conservative media empire and hand over to his eldest son Lachlan to head News Corp media group and Fox Corporation.

On the air of the Fox News news channel, the press release from the two companies announcing the news was read soberly by a journalist, who praised the “indelible mark” of his boss on the “global media landscape”.

Rupert Murdoch leaves a controversial legacy, accused of having, through his newspapers and television, favored the rise of populism in Anglo-Saxon countries, symbolized by Brexit in the United Kingdom and the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States in 2016.

In a memo to his “colleagues” at Fox, Rupert Murdoch assures them that “the battle for free speech, and ultimately, free thought, has never been more intense.”

President “Emeritus”

In his usual style, the patriarch castigates “the bureaucracies”, “the elites (who) openly despise those who are not part of their disconnected class”, as well as “most of the media (which) are in cahoots with these elites, peddling political narratives rather than seeking the truth.”

The American channel Fox News, born in 1996 to compete with CNN, has on the contrary been accused of fueling disinformation about anti-COVID-19 vaccines and allegations of a supposedly rigged presidential election in 2020 in the United States to the detriment of Donald Trump. .

This media coverage earned him a very hefty bill. Fox News agreed in April to pay the sum of $787.5 million to electronic voting machine manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems, at the center of Trumpist conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, and whose channel had been the echo.

Rupert Murdoch will leave the chairmanship of the boards of Fox Corporation, parent company of Fox News, and the global group News Corp, to become chairman “emeritus”, as of the next general meeting of shareholders of the two companies in mid-November.


Lachlan Murdoch

Without real surprise, he hands over to his son Lachlan, 52, already president of Fox Corporation and favorite to take over from his brothers and sisters, James, reputedly more liberal, Prudence and Elisabeth, in a race for inheritance which inspired the hit American television series Succession.

Without much surprise, he hands over to his son Lachlan, 52, already chairman of Fox Corporation and favorite to take over among his siblings—James, Prudence and Elisabeth—in a race for inheritance that has inspired the hit American television series Succession.

But the knighting of Lachlan Murdoch does not extinguish questions about the direction of the empire after the death of Rupert Murdoch, because his four children will then have the same voting rights within the group.

Empire slimmed down

In the immediate future, Lachlan Murdoch will lead an empire that had been resized by the sale in 2017 of the 21st Century Fox entertainment group and its vast catalog of films to Disney.

Rupert Murdoch is stepping aside at a key moment, one year before the 2024 American presidential election, for which Donald Trump is once again the big favorite in the Republican primary.

After the out-of-court settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, Fox News remains sued for defamation by another IT company, Smartmatic, which is seeking $2.7 billion in compensation.

“Questions remain open about how Fox will approach its programming and coverage of the 2024 election cycle, a year that will see political ad dollars flowing freely,” notes Third Bridge analyst Jamie Lumley.

In the wake of the Dominion affair, Fox News lost one of its star presenters, the sulphurous Tucker Carlson, whose departure resulted in a loss of audience.

So far, Lachlan Murdoch has never given any sign of wanting to soften the conservative line at Fox News.

His father, the most powerful and best-known press boss in the world, started from a simple daily newspaper in Adelaide, in his native Australia in the early 1950s, built a global empire and his newspapers and television channels had considerable influence in the United Kingdom and then in the United States.

“He has caused enormous damage to the democratic world and in particular to the United States,” former Australian conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, ousted in 2018 by the conservative wing of the party, said on Friday.

Murdoch’s media have also been the most vehement in “denying the reality of global warming and delaying action to address it”, he added to Australian public broadcaster ABC.

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