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All the Ways Rupert Murdoch Left His Fingerprints on Tech

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Rupert Murdoch has sat in the public light for decades, though he can’t quite escape his failures to become the biggest name in digital media.
Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth (AP)

The big, wrinkly brain at the head of the massive conservative News Corp media conglomerate, Rupert Murdoch, announced he’s finally stepping down Thursday. The 92-year-old multi-billionaire—who brought us Fox News as the centerpiece for a massive news and entertainment media empire—is finally slinking away to live the rest of his days away from hard scrutiny.

Murdoch has been a major figure in the media business since taking over the Australian daily The News after his father’s death in 1952. Murdoch’s son, Lachlan Murdoch, the previous CEO of Fox Corporation, is taking his father’s place. There’s an open question where Lachlan lands on the political spectrum, but according to some sources, he’s even more conservative and Trump-loving than dear old dad. A Fox spokesperson called this all “just speculation” in a comment to Reuters.

Murdoch leaving the business isn’t so much excising a demon from Fox critics’ collective psyche as much as it’s building anxiety about an uncertain future. Angelo Carusone, the CEO of left-leaning nonprofit Media Matters for America, didn’t mince words about the now-ex-media-mogul, saying his media empire “helped reshape the Republican Party into a Trumpist authoritarian death cult.” Carusone said Lachlan’s leadership “will likely just intensify the misconduct, misinformation, and malevolence that have come to define Murdoch media.”

You don’t become the biggest name in worldwide media without also becoming something of a major influence on tech. With his direct influence now waning, we can do a bit of an obituary on the mogul’s efforts to influence the world of tech, and how both his direct and unintended efforts have contributed to the shape of our current digital landscape. News Corp wanted to be the biggest name in digital media, and at every step it failed to compete with other big names, leaving it to rely on the bread and butter of its conservative news apparatus.

Murdoch’s billions were involved in consolidating the world’s online media experience. His no-holds-barred operating philosophy would end up violating people’s privacy and setting us up for the state of current social media and content streaming. All the while, News Corp’s entities would struggle to find an actual, legitimate foothold in the digital frontier. Instead, Fox News and other Murdoch-owned brands facilitated a new media environment where disinformation ruled the day and truth was laid aside for conservative grievance. Even though Grandpa Murdoch is now out of the spotlight, things won’t likely change any time for News Corp.

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