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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced he is stepping down as chairman of News Corp. and Fox in a memo to staff on Thursday. He will officially retire in November and will pass the torch to his son, Lachlan Murdoch, who will also remain as CEO and executive chairman of Fox Corporation.
In the memo, Murdoch (92) said he will still be involved in brainstorming new content and ideas, saying he will continue to “be an active member” of Fox and News Corp. He wrote: “Our companies are in robust health, as am I,” and continued, “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.” To his enemies, that could read as a threat.
Murdoch will take on a new role as chairman emeritus for both media companies which will take effect following the annual general meeting of shareholders in mid-November, at which time Lachlan will officially replace his father as the chairman.
Lachlan congratulated his father for his “remarkable 70-year career,” in a News Corp. press release, adding: “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.”
Murdoch has had a contentious career over seven decades, often receiving criticism for his far-right political leanings prompting a lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems in April. Murdoch agreed to a settlement of $787 million to Dominion Voting Systems for defamation on Fox News, saying it spread false information about its role in the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit claimed Fox News “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.”
In the wake of the lawsuit, Fox News removed longtime host Tucker Carlson and seemingly stepped away from far-right propaganda, sparking outrage among MAGA supporters. Former President Donald Trump has gone so far as to call Murdoch a “globalist” in a recent social media video, saying he was trying to stand in the way of him being reelected as president in the 2024 elections.
Murdoch characteristically took it upon himself to address the mainstream media that he doesn’t own in his letter to staff, writing: “Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose.” He added: “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.”
Fox News announced Murdoch’s retirement on air, praising the leader for bringing the media outlet to the forefront. “Rupert Murdoch created all of this and so much more across America and the globe,” Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer said, according to CNN. “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.” His co-anchor Dana Perino added: “Without him, we would not be here.”