James Murdoch Quits News Corp Board Over Editorial Disagreements

Rachel Olding, Lachlan Cartwright, Lloyd Grove
·4 min read
Michael Kovac/Getty
Michael Kovac/Getty

James Murdoch has resigned from the board of his family’s news behemoth, News Corp, due to disagreements over editorial content published by the company’s notoriously right-wing outlets, The Daily Beast has confirmed.

“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,” a company statement said. He was immediately scrubbed from the company’s online list of board directors.

The move comes a little over six months after Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son issued a stunning rebuke of his family’s media empire and its promotion of climate-change skeptics during Australia’s bushfire crisis.

James Murdoch Slams Fox News and News Corp Over Climate-Change Denial

“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple exclusively told The Daily Beast at the time as wildfires raged in Australia.

“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

In contrast, James’ brother Lachlan, News Corp’s co-chairman, personally okayed Tucker Carlson’s recent non-apology for racist rants penned by his top writer.

In a brief resignation letter dated July 31 and addressed to the board of directors, James wrote, “I hereby tender my resignation as a member of the Board of Directors of News Corporation (the “Company”), effective as of the date hereof. My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”

The board of directors will be reduced to 10 members as a result, headed by Murdoch’s father, Rupert, and Lachlan.

Rupert and Lachlan offered a brief statement in response to James' decision: “We’re grateful to James for his many years of service to the company. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

James, 47, often considered the rebel in the infamous Australian media family, had made several less-than-subtle moves away from News Corp’s brand of inflammatory and populist journalism in recent months.

Last year, the Financial Times reported that he was planning to invest $1 billion in a portfolio of media companies that could include a liberal-leaning news outlet.

In March, he reportedly made a large investment in start-ups aimed at tackling fake news. His private investment company, Lupa Systems, partnered with startup incubator Betaworks to fund efforts to fight disinformation and create a “more sustainable news ecosystem,” a report said.

People who know James were not surprised by Friday’s development, which seemed inevitable after he was relieved of his executive responsibilities as CEO of Twenty-First Century Fox—which largely involved the entertainment assets that were sold to the Walt Disney Co. but not the right-leaning, Trump-friendly cash cow Fox News—and began carving out an independent identity from his older brother, Lachlan, and the Murdoch empire.

He was increasingly alienated from the Trump administration and the role of Fox News and the New York Post in propping it up. In August 2017, for instance, as Rupert was negotiating the Disney deal and anti-Semitic incidents were on the rise in the United States, James pledged a $1 million donation to the Anti-Defamation League.

However, climate change skepticism run in News Corp’s right-leaning Australian newspapers and on Fox News in the U.S. brought the long-simmering family rift over climate change to the fore in January with James and wife Kathryn’s blistering statement to The Daily Beast.

“They are pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual. It’s evidence of how high tensions are within the family over climate change,” one News Corp executive told The Daily Beast at the time.

James and his activist wife have long been passionate about the environment and climate change. They’ve donated to U.S. organizations targeting electoral interference, climate change, anti-Semitism, and bipartisan unity, as well as the presidential campaigns of Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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