James Murdoch has sensationally resigned from the board of directors of his family’s News Corporation media empire after a series of behind-the-scenes arguments over the company’s policy stance – particularly on climate change.
James, a father of three considered “the liberal of the Murdoch family,” cited editorial disagreements in his explosive resignation letter, which was only two paragraphs long.
He writes: “My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s media outlets and certain other strategic decisions.
The 47-year-old, who held management positions in several of his father’s companies, was once considered the frontrunner to take over News Corporation.
James Murdoch sensationally resigned from the board of directors of his family’s News Corporation media empire after a series of behind-the-scenes wrangling over the company’s political stance. Pictured: James (right) and Lachlan Murdoch with their father Rupert
But he is believed to have become disillusioned with the conservative views held by many of his newspapers, as well as by Fox News – which is also owned by his father as part of a separate company.
He and his wife Kathryn – an environmental activist – have been particularly annoyed by the company’s coverage of the bushfires in Australia over the past two years.
Although James recently pocketed $ 2 billion (£ 1.5 billion) when his father Rupert sold much of the business to Disney, it is unclear what his business plans are.
His other interests include Tesla, the electric car company founded by Elon Musk, where he has been a non-executive director since 2017.
He and his wife Kathryn – an environmental activist – (pictured together) have been particularly annoyed by the company’s coverage of the bushfires in Australia over the past two years.
But Andrew Neil, previously one of Murdoch Sr.’s key lieutenants, said the idea of James succeeding on his own terms was “far-fetched”.
The former Sunday Times editor-in-chief told The Mail last night: “James has always been the family liberal with a little ‘l’.
A fascinating family saga that looks more like an estate than an estate!
The dynasty led by Logan Roy (center)
As members of the world’s most famous media dynasty, the Murdochs have long been used to living in the public spotlight.
More recently, however, the family has had to get used to a whole new level of control thanks to the runaway success of the Succession TV series.
The HBO series chronicles the exploits of fictional media mogul Logan Roy and his attempts to protect his Waystar Royco empire from both his business rivals and his bickering children.
One of Logan’s main concerns is whether any of his four children will take over the empire once he’s no longer fit to continue. The drama, which stars Brian Cox as Logan, is a work of fiction, but the show’s writers appear to have been inspired by the Murdoch family.
There are similarities between the Roy children and the Murdoch offspring. Observers have noted that Kendall – the second son, just like James – is Logan’s alleged heir. But he struggled to prove himself to his father and was involved in several business disasters.
When asked if he had watched the show before, James Murdoch replied, “Not even a glance, why would I? The series was critically acclaimed and expects 18 Emmys. He appears to have influenced the recent BBC documentary on the Murdochs.
Fans noted that the use of home movie footage, themed music, and even the topics covered had Succession echoes.
In fact, he was liberal by Murdoch’s standards, which doesn’t mean he was very liberal in general.
“When I knew him, when he was a teenager, he was the one who had long hair while his brother Lachlan had one of those trendy US Marine Corps hairstyles, and at one point he even had a earring in one of his ears – which passes for rebellion in the Murdoch family.
He added, “So he’s always been a liberal and his wife and friends are all incredibly awake, which has encouraged them on this path. Now that he has two billion in the bank, every dollar he owes entirely to his father, he probably feels like he has enough money to say what he wants.
He said: “It’s interesting that he is only as wealthy because of the businesses his father started. Now he has decided to backfire on the views these companies represented, but he’s not giving back the money… I don’t think he’s going to do anything.
“James has the money and he’s decided to have different opinions about his brother and his father, which is good. But every suitable job he’s ever had is because his name is Murdoch. The idea that he’ll go anywhere or do anything is pretty far-fetched.
Nonetheless, James is somewhat of a survivor. He was executive chairman of News International when the company was rocked by the phone hacking scandal that led to News of the World shutting down.
He rebounded when his father appointed him CEO of 21st Century Fox in 2015, but sources say James has indeed been sidelined since the Disney sale.
James told an interviewer, “There are a lot of things on Fox News that I don’t agree with. I am not involved in the affairs of Fox Corp. My brother [Lachlan] and my dad runs this and they went to do their own thing.
Earlier this year, James and his wife released a statement criticizing Murdoch-owned media in Australia for failing to meet the challenge of climate change.
While scientists have insisted that climate change has been a key factor in the scale of the fires, newspaper editorial lines have widely argued that the fires were no worse than in previous decades. In 2017, the couple purchased a 450-acre retreat north of Vancouver in Canada that has a hot spring and a river that can be used to generate electricity.
James laughed at reports that he bought it as some sort of survival bunker.