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Rupert Murdoch steps down as Fox and News Corp. chairman

Rupert Murdoch steps down as Fox and News Corp. chairman

New York  — Rupert Murdoch, the powerful right-wing media mogul who built and oversaw one of the world’s most influential news empires, announced Thursday that he will step down as chairman of his companies, Fox Corporation and News Corp.

“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change,” Murdoch, 92, wrote in a memo to employees. “But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams.”

As the leader of Fox and News Corporation, which publishes influential broadsheets such as The Wall Street Journal and tabloid New York Post, Murdoch has for decades commanded considerable influence in the Republican Party, matched by only a select few.

Murdoch’s decision to step down as chairman of his companies will send shockwaves through the media industry and leave ripples rushing through the political waters as well, just as the 2024 presidential race heats up.

Lachlan Murdoch steps in

Stepping into his shoes, Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan, who already serves as chief executive of Fox Corporation, will become sole chairman of both companies.

Murdoch described Lachlan as “a passionate, principled leader.” It’s unclear if Fox’s direction will change under Lachlan, but Rupert signaled that Lachlan will maintain the right-wing editorial bent his media companies are known for.

“My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause,” Murdoch told employees in his memo. “Self- serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”

Rupert Murdoch, who assured staffers he is in “robust health,” said that in his new role as chairman emeritus he would still be “involved every day in the contest of ideas.”

However, Lachlan Murdoch has privately criticized Trump, saying that he disagrees with much of the way the former President behaves, sources told CNN. Murdoch has gone so far as to tell people that he believes if Trump were to run again, it would be bad for the country.

A storied, controversial career

Murdoch’s foray into the media business began in the 1950s with a small Australian newspaper chain, later becoming a major Hollywood executive in 1985 when he purchased Twentieth Century Fox from oilman Marvin Davis for $600 million. In 1986, Murdoch got into the television business after he purchased several US television stations and created Fox Broadcasting.

Fox News launched in 1996 as a conservative startup competitor to CNN. It eventually became the top cable news channel in America by playing into conservative narratives.

The channel, however, veered from its roots in conservative news as former President Donald Trump ascended to power in the Republican Party in 2015, becoming an unabashed home of right-wing propaganda aimed at propping up the scandal-ridden White House.

In recent years, under Murdoch, Fox News has advanced baseless conspiracy theories, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.

The lies Fox News pushed about the election spawned two massive defamation lawsuits from voting technology companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.

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Fox earlier this year settled the Dominion lawsuit for a historic $787.5 million. The Smartmatic lawsuit, however, continues to make its way through the court system.

Fox News announced Murdoch’s retirement on its air Thursday morning, with anchor Bill Hemmer praising the network’s founder.

“Rupert Murdoch created all of this and so much more across America and the globe,” Hemmer said. “His life’s work has left an indelible imprint on the global media landscape. His contributions are both innumerable and extraordinary and we thank him for letting us be a part of it all.”

“Without him, we would not be here,” anchor Dana Perino added.

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Rupert Murdoch Fast Facts

Here’s a look at the life of media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Personal

Birth date: March 11, 1931

Birth place: Melbourne, Australia

Birth name: Keith Rupert Murdoch

Father: Keith Murdoch, journalist and newspaper publisher

Mother: Elisabeth (Greene) Murdoch, philanthropist

Marriages: Jerry Hall (2016 – 2022, divorced); Wendi (Deng) Murdoch (1999-2013, divorced); Anna (Torv) Murdoch (1967-1999, divorced); Patricia (Booker) Murdoch (1956-1967, divorced)

Children: with Wendi (Deng) Murdoch: Chloe and Grace; with Anna (Torv) Murdoch: James, Lachlan, and Elisabeth; with Patricia (Booker) Murdoch: Prudence

Education: Worcester College, Oxford University, 1953

Other Facts

Founder of News Corporation, Ltd., which has holdings in cable, film, television, internet, direct broadcast satellite television, sports, publishing and other fields.

Murdoch has been compared to William Randolph Hearst, who is often considered the founder of tabloid-style journalism.

Timeline

1952 – Murdoch’s newspaper publisher father dies, leaving him control of the News Ltd. company in Adelaide, Australia.

1954Murdoch begins running News Ltd.

1956Purchases Perth’s Sunday Times.

1960 Purchases Sydney newspapers the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.

1964 Starts The Australian, a national paper.

1969 Becomes a London publisher when he gains control of the paper News of the World. Also acquires The Sun, which he transforms into a tabloid.

1973Expands to the United States by purchasing the San Antonio Express and the San Antonio News.

1974Moves to the United States.

1974Starts the National Star weekly tabloid to compete with the National Enquirer.

1976Purchases the New York Post.

1977 – Purchases New York Magazine, Corp., which includes New York magazine and The Village Voice. Murdoch has since sold both The Village Voice and New York magazine.

1979Forms News Corporation in Australia.

1981Purchases The Times of London.

1982 Purchases The Boston Herald.

1983Purchases the Chicago Sun-Times.

1985 – Purchases Twentieth Century Fox from oilman Marvin Davis for $600 million.

September 1985 – Becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States.

1986 – Purchases several US television stations and creates Fox Broadcasting.

1987 – Purchases US publishing house Harper & Row for $300 million.

1988 Sells the New York Post because of laws prohibiting ownership of newspapers and TV stations in the same market.

1990Merges Harper and Row and two other publishing operations into HarperCollins.

1993Purchases Star TV, a satellite television service based in Hong Kong.

1993 Buys back the New York Post.

1996Launches the Fox News Channel.

1998-2004Owns the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

2000Treated for prostate cancer.

2004 – Shifts News Corp. incorporation from Australia to the United States.

2005 – Purchases Intermix Media, owner of MySpace.com, for $580 million.

2007Purchases Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

March 2011 – Murdoch’s son, James, is named News Corp.’s deputy chief operating officer and chairman and CEO of News International.

July 2011 Sells Myspace.com for $35 million.

July 16, 2011 – Murdoch meets with the family of murdered teen Milly Dowler, and personally apologizes for the hacking of Dowler’s phone by News of the World staff. Murdoch issues an apology for the phone hacking via full page ads in seven national newspapers.

July 19, 2011 – Murdoch and his son, James, testify before Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee on the phone hacking scandal enveloping News Group Intl. During the testimony, a protester hits Murdoch with a pie made of shaving cream.

March 2012 – The months long FBI investigation into allegations of bribery by officials of a Russian subsidiary of News Corp., News Outdoor Russia (NOR), comes to light. NOR, a billboard company, paid to advertise in public space on government owned property. News Corp sold its interest in NOR July 2011.

April 5, 2012John Ryley, the head of Sky News, admits to authorizing journalists to hack into emails of private citizens. Sky News is owned by News Corp.

April 24, 2012 – James Murdoch testifies before an independent British inquiry into journalistic ethics. He insists that he knew little about the scale of phone hacking by people working for the News of the World.

April 26, 2012 – Rupert Murdoch testifies before the same committee. He admits to a cover-up of abuses at News of the World and apologizes for not paying more attention to the scandal.

June 28, 2012 – News Corp. confirms that it plans to split into two publicly traded companies, one company for its television and film assets and the other for its newspaper and book publishing entities. Once the split is completed, Murdoch will serve as chairman of both companies and will also serve as CEO of the media and entertainment company.

October 13, 2012 – Murdoch tweets about “scumbag” celebrities. Many speculated he was referring to singer Charlotte Church and television presenter Jacqui Hames after they met with British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the potential reform of Britain’s media laws. Murdoch tweets later that he wasn’t referring to “particular people” and apologizes for his language.

January 2015 – Following the Paris terror attacks, Murdoch is criticized for tweeting “Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.” Later he tries to clarify his comments by tweeting “Certainly did not mean all Muslims responsible for Paris attack. But Muslim community must debate and confront extremism.”

January 11, 2016 – Announces his engagement to Jerry Hall, the former model who has four children with Mick Jagger.

July 21, 2016 – Takes over as chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network as Roger Ailes resigns amid allegations by Fox employees of sexual harassment.

August 12, 2016 – Names Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy as co-presidents of Fox News to replace Ailes. The two will report to Murdoch.

December 9, 2016 – Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox strikes a deal to take full control of Sky, one of the world’s leading pay TV providers, in an offer that values Sky at $23.3 billion.

June 29, 2017 – The British government rules that Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox should not be allowed to purchase Sky without a further investigation. Fox says it will “continue to work constructively with the UK authorities.”

September 12, 2017 – UK culture secretary Karen Bradley says she intends to order an extensive review of 21st Century Fox’s $15 billion planned takeover of Sky because of concerns over “genuine commitment to broadcasting standards” and the increased influence it would give the Murdoch family over British media.

December 14, 2017 – The Walt Disney Company announces it is purchasing most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion.

July 27, 2018 – Shareholders approve Disney’s purchase of most of 21st Century Fox.

September 22, 2018 – Comcast outbids 21st Century Fox for Sky. Days later Fox announces it will sell its 39% stake in Sky to Comcast.

December 9, 2021 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Murdoch has purchased Beaverhead Ranch, a cattle ranch in Montana, for over $200 million.

July 1, 2022 – Murdoch’s wife, Jerry, files for divorce.

January 19-20, 2023 – Murdoch is deposed in Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News over its coverage of election fraud in the 2020 election. In the deposition Murdoch acknowledges that some Fox News hosts endorsed false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

January 24, 2023 – Murdoch abandons his proposal to merge Fox Corporation and News Corporation.

March 20 2023 – An article published in the New York Post, one of Murdoch’s publications, reveals he’s engaged to marry Ann Lesley Smith. In April, it is reported that the engagement has been called off.

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& © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.