James Murdoch’s resignation from the News Corp board confirms the divisions that divide the editorial arm of his family’s media empire and suppresses a powerful dissenting voice against the group’s right-wing tendency, insiders say.
The move marks the complete departure of Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son from News Corp and is likely to strengthen the influence of his brother, Lachlan, who is seen as much more sympathetic to right-wing causes.
“My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions,” James said in his resignation letter.
In a statement, Rupert, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox and News Corp, and Lachlan, chief executive and executive chairman of Fox and co-chairman of the board of directors of News Corp, expressed their gratitude for “James'” many years of service. in the business. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.
News Corp’s board will be reduced to 10 seats from 11. The company has given no indication that it will seek another board member.
While this decision is likely based on 47-year-old James’ disagreement over society’s skeptical reports of the climate change crisis, some observers believe it was more likely to have come from the 89-year-old patriarch, who continues to maintain an iron grip despite a transfer of presentation power to his sons.
“He has always been controlled by Rupert and only Rupert,” said one of them.
James Murdoch has had little to do with News Corp’s publishing arm since 2013, when it was split from what were then profitable family TV and movie operations.
His departure from the council is therefore largely ceremonial. “The resignation note is just to show the world and their friends that they don’t believe it. It doesn’t make sense in a way. It’s to show that I’m a good guy, ”the source said.
In 2007, the elder Murdoch appeared to confirm his support for his son’s commitment to the issue of the climate crisis and pledged to move businesses towards carbon neutrality.
“I was probably a little more skeptical than my son James, who is a complete convert, and who converted me,” Murdoch said.
“I don’t think it’s about my conviction on this issue – I’ve come to feel it very strongly,” he continued.
But James Murdoch’s full support for environmental causes has only been fully understood in recent months. He and his wife, Kathryn, a former employee of the Clinton Climate Change initiative, have donated to U.S. organizations targeting climate change and election meddling as well as the presidential campaigns of Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden.
Earlier this year, James berated his family’s media empire and his promotion of climate change skeptics during the Australian bushfire, which devastated thousands of square kilometers and killed or displaced up to 3 billion animals .
“Kathryn and James’ views on the climate are well established and their frustration with some of the coverage on the subject by News Corp and Fox is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple said at the time.
But it wasn’t just the climate crisis that made James stand out. After condemning Donald Trump’s comments following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, James pledged a $ 1 million donation to the Anti-Defamation League.
In March, James, who received roughly $ 2 billion from the sale of Fox’s film and television divisions to Disney, reportedly took a stake in an anti-fake news startup, Betaworks, aimed at combating disinformation and create a “more sustainable information ecosystem”.
Apparent divisions within the Murdoch family have also arisen within News Corp’s operations as America grapples with the Trump presidency scandals, the coronavirus pandemic and the social upheavals of the #MeToo era. and the Black Lives Matter protests.
Last month, 280 staff at Dow Jones, the Murdoch company that publishes the Wall Street Journal, sent a letter to the newspaper’s new editor, calling for a clearer differentiation between news and opinion content online and noting concerns about the accuracy and transparency of the newspaper’s notoriously reactionary editorial content.
“The lack of fact-checking and openness of opinion, as well as its apparent disregard for evidence, undermines our readers’ confidence and our ability to gain credibility with sources,” they wrote, highlighting an essay. by Mike Pence on Coronavirus Infections.
A similar controversy erupted with Fox News after the cable channel showed a chart linking the murders of black men – including George Floyd and Martin Luther King Jr – to stock market gains.
Fox News executives apologized, saying the graphic “should never have been shown on television without full context.”
Later in July, Blake Neff, a lead writer on Tucker Carlson’s show, was fired for posting racist comments on an online forum. Carlson said Neff’s comments were “bogus” but paid a “very heavy price,” before turning to a criticism of “the culture of cancellation” and “the ghouls now fighting their chest in triumph at the destruction of a young man ”.
Carlson, whose racist and anti-immigrant statements have provoked repeated outrage, had strong support from Lachlan. Last year, the New York Times magazine reported that Lachlan had repeatedly sent messages of support for Carlson amid scandals. The Daily Beast reported that Lachlan – and his father – both approved of Carlson’s defensive and barely apologetic reaction to the Neff scandal.