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Rupert Murdoch to Leave Helm of Empire After Seven Decades

Rupert Murdoch to Leave Helm of Empire After Seven Decades
Rupert Murdoch Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chairman of the boards of Fox Corp. and News Corp., following a nearly seven-decade career, and will become chairman emeritus of each company. 

The move marks the end of an era that saw Murdoch, now 92, reshape the media, entertainment and political landscapes on both sides of the Atlantic through a barrage of headline-generating deals and a series of newsroom scandals, ranging from the phone-hacking investigations that roiled his newspapers in London in the early 2010s to the ongoing lawsuits against Fox News, involving the spread of misinformation in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

His son Lachlan Murdoch, 52, will become sole chairman of News Corp. and continue as executive chair and chief executive officer of Fox, the company said in a statement Thursday. While the Murdoch empire prospered throughout the media era defined by print newspapers, movie theaters and cable and broadcast television, it has yet to achieve similar prominence in the new world of streaming video and short-form, user-generated content.

Shares of Fox rose 2.3% to $31.88 at 11:11 a.m. in New York. Shares of News Corp. rose less than 1% to $19.85.

In a letter to Fox employees, the elder Murdoch said “the time is right for me to take on different roles,” adding that “our companies are in robust health, as am I.” He promised he will still “be involved every day in the contest of ideas.”

“The battle for freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense,” he said.

Rupert Murdoch has been one of the most influential and controversial figures in media. He has held sway over public opinion via a global empire that included tabloids, sophisticated press like the Wall Street Journal and television properties in the US and the UK.

His stepping aside leaves his eldest son in charge of a global media empire Murdoch created from a local newspaper in Australia.

Murdoch’s Fox wrested market share from other prominent networks and changed the world of professional sports by offering record sums for broadcast rights to football games and other events. Fox News Channel, a juggernaut in cable TV, became a stage for Republican US politicians including Donald Trump and an incessant critic of Democrats, including presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Recently, Fox News and Murdoch have paid dearly for the network’s embrace of Trump’s claims that an elaborate conspiracy stole the 2020 election from him.

In one of the darkest chapters of Murdoch’s reign, Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems Inc. The voting machine company had alleged that the network defamed it by airing bogus claims that it rigged the vote against Trump. Evidence uncovered in the case showed that the media titan and other top Fox executives, as well as superstar hosts like Tucker Carlson, privately derided the conspiracy theory as loony even as they promoted it.

In the letter to employees, Murdoch said, “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.”

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