In a move that has sent shockwaves through both the media and political landscapes, Rupert Murdoch, the influential right-wing media mogul, has announced his retirement as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corporation. The 92-year-old media titan, known for building and overseeing a global media empire, revealed his decision in a memo to employees on Thursday.
“For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change,” Murdoch stated in his memo. “But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams.”
Rupert Murdoch’s leadership of Fox and News Corporation, the publisher of influential publications like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, has granted him considerable influence within the Republican Party, a position rivaled by only a few.
This retirement announcement comes at a pivotal moment for the media industry as established entertainment giants grapple with the transformation of traditional television and film, while consumers increasingly turn to streaming services.
Notably, Murdoch’s departure from the helm of his media conglomerates will have far-reaching implications on the political landscape, coinciding with the intensifying 2024 presidential race. Fox News remains entangled in legal battles stemming from its promotion of former President Donald Trump’s unfounded election claims in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
Taking the reins from Rupert Murdoch will be his eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, who already serves as the chief executive of Fox Corporation. Lachlan will assume the role of sole chairman for both companies.
Rupert Murdoch praised Lachlan as “a passionate, principled leader,” indicating that the right-wing editorial stance associated with his media companies is likely to remain intact. In his memo to employees, Murdoch alluded to their shared commitment to freedom and criticism of “self-serving bureaucracies” and “elites” who he believes disdain those outside their social circles.
While Lachlan Murdoch is expected to continue the family’s conservative media legacy, it’s worth noting that he has privately voiced disagreements with former President Trump’s behavior, according to sources. He reportedly expressed concerns about the potential impact on the country should Trump decide to run for office again.
Rupert Murdoch’s career in media began in the 1950s with the acquisition of a small Australian newspaper chain. Over the years, he expanded his media empire to include influential British newspapers, such as The Times and The Sun, before venturing into the United States with the acquisition of newspapers like the New York Post.
One of his most significant purchases was Twentieth Century Fox in 1985, marking his entry into the Hollywood entertainment industry. Murdoch also launched Sky, a UK satellite pay-TV broadcaster, in 1989, and later attempted to dominate the internet with the acquisition of MySpace in 2005, although the latter venture proved unsuccessful.
In 2019, Murdoch sold a substantial portion of his media empire, including Twentieth Century Fox, to Disney in a $71 billion deal. He retained control of News Corp., which includes the Wall Street Journal.
Murdoch’s influence extended to Fox News, which he founded in 1996 as a conservative competitor to CNN. Over the years, Fox News evolved into a dominant force in cable news, although its coverage faced criticism for promoting conspiracy theories, particularly during the Trump era.
The retirement of Rupert Murdoch marks the end of an era in media and politics, and the succession of his son Lachlan will be closely watched as it shapes the future direction of Murdoch-owned media outlets.