Rupert Murdoch stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corp.
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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is retiring in November as the chairman of Fox and News Corp., a significant shift for a company that has significantly shaped political discourse across the country and particularly on the right for decades.

Murdoch, 92, will transition into a new role as chairman emeritus for both companies, and his son, Lachlan Murdoch, will become sole chairman of News Corp and continue as CEO and executive chairman of Fox Corporation.

Murdoch insisted he was stepping down at a point where the companies are in good health after a turbulent year that saw Fox News, the crown jewel of his conservative media empire, agreed to pay $787 million to Dominion Voting Systems to settle claims of defamation out of court in connection with false statements the network aired about the company’s software being promoted by former President Trump and his allies.

“Our companies are in robust health, as am I,” Murdoch wrote in a note to employees Thursday announcing the news. “Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them. But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.”

Lachlan, the elder Murdoch wrote, is “absolutely committed to the cause.”

As part of the Dominion litigation, a trove of communications from top Fox executives, including Murdoch, showed them throwing cold water on Trump’s assertions about voter fraud and blasting the former president.

Over a decades long career in the media and entertainment business, Murdoch has solidified himself as the American right’s top kingmaker.

He launched Fox News in the late 1990s as a competitor to mainstream media outlets and has grown the network into the top-watched cable news channel.

“Selfserving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose,” Murdoch wrote in his note to staff. “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.”

The media mogul said he plans to remain “involved every day in the contest of ideas.”

“I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest, and reaching out to you with thoughts, ideas, and advice,” he said.

Lachlan Murdoch, in his new role, will also take over as Chairman of News Corp., the media conglomerate that owns the Wall Street Journal and New York Post.

Last fall, Rupert Murdoch attempted to combine Fox and News Corps. — two companies that had previously been combined until he separated them in 2013.

Murdoch decided to pull the bid just months later, writing to company shareholders the following January that “a combination is not optimal for shareholders of News Corp and FOX at this time.”

In recent years, the Journal and Post have both grown increasingly critical of Trump, with its editorials and op-eds often serving as fuel for the former president to attack the Murdochs and his media empire.

In a recent social media video, Trump called Murdoch a “globalist” who is trying to stop him from reclaiming the presidency in 2024 and accused the media tycoon of trying to boost his top GOP rivals.

The former president skipped the first Republican primary debate, which was hosted by and aired on Fox, and is planning to skip the second debate next week, which will be broadcast on Fox Business.

Fox and News Corp., like all major media companies, face major headwinds in the form of widespread cord cutting across cable television, increased competition for online subscribers and a volatile digital ad market.

Still, both media companies are certain to be major players in setting the tone and themes of the coming 2024 presidential election.

Murdoch’s personal life, family business dealings and influence over popular culture has also been a matter of public fascination for years.

His recent engagement and subsequent break up with Ann Lesley Smith sparked a flood of tabloid headlines and chatter across the media and political worlds about what would have been Murdoch’s fifth marriage.

The award-winning HBO series “Succession” is also widely believed to be loosely based on Murdoch’s family and media empire.

“We thank him for his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination, and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted,” Lachlan Murdoch said of his father in a statement on Thursday. “We are grateful that he will serve as Chairman Emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.”

Updated: 10:24 a.m.

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