James Murdoch has resigned from News Corp’s board, the media company said Friday, citing “disagreements” over editorial content.
The resignation breaks Murdoch’s last formal link with the media empire his father, Rupert Murdoch, created. James’s older brother, Lachlan, runs Fox Corporation.
In a resignation letter filed Friday afternoon, Murdoch wrote: “My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”
News Corp’s News UK division owns The Times, Sunday Times and Sun newspapers. Its other assets include Dow Jones, the owner of the Wall Street Journal, the major Australian newspaper, and the Australian tabloids Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and Courier-Mail.
The Murdochs’ other media company, Fox Corp, is the parent company of Fox News and the Fox broadcast network, formed after 21st Century Fox sold its entertainment assets to the Walt Disney Company last year.
James Murdoch, 47, is the fourth child of Rupert Murdoch, 88, the billionaire founder of News Corp. Lachlan Murdoch, 48, is considered the presumed heir.
It wasn’t immediately clear what editorial content might have fueled James Murdoch’s decision to step down. However, he and Lachlan recently shared their discomfort with the conservative orientation of much of News Corp and Fox Corp.
Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspapers have been repeatedly accused of spreading climate “disinformation” and providing a platform for climate science deniers, including during the recent Australian bushfire crisis.
Andrew Bolt, a prominent political commentator and blogger for News Corp Australia, is known for his derision of the science of climate change and his attacks on climate alarmists.
News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller previously said the company does not “deny climate change or the severity of its threat.”
Earlier this year, James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn criticized the family media’s coverage of the climate crisis.
“Kathryn and James’ views on the climate are well established, and their frustration with some of the news Corp and Fox coverage on the subject is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple said. “They are particularly disappointed by the ongoing denial among news organizations in Australia, which clearly demonstrates the opposite.”
Kathryn Murdoch is a vocal environmentalist. She said she was inspired to take action after watching former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speak at a Fox News retreat.
“I decided to change everything I did,” she told The New York Times. “I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye and say ‘I did all I could.’”
James Murdoch has also publicly criticized Fox News.
“There are views that I really disagree with about Fox,” he told The New Yorker last year.
A filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday said, “On July 31, 2020, News Corporation received a letter from James R Murdoch presenting his resignation from the board of directors of the company, effective immediately.
“Mr. Murdoch informed the company that his resignation was due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions. ”
In a statement, Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch said, “We are grateful to James for his many years of service to the company. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.