The name Murdoch is synonymous with money, influence and radical conservatism.
The Global media Empire, News Corp, is led by Rupert Murdoch, who at 86 years old is one of the world’s wealthiest men. Worth an estimated 20 Billion Dollars (US) as of 2019, Murdoch controls the majority of media news outlets both domestically and internationally with sales of News Corp publications accounting for more than 65% of total information sources in Australia with the second largest news media influence, Fairfax controlling another 25% of total information circulated to the public. With a single entity holding so much influence over news the public consumes, Ex Prime Minister of Labor, Kevin Rudd, led the charge for the Australian Parliament to open an investigation into Murdoch’s dominance of the news industry calling it a “Cancer to Democracy.”
In America, Murdoch owns Fox News along with, literally, hundreds of other media outlets ranging from international media enterprises to smaller, more localized television news broadcasting agencies, to magazine and newspaper outlets like The New York Post and Wall Street Journal along with its parent company Dow Jones. Murdoch, via News Corp, also owns the book publisher Harper Collins, websites Storyful, Realtor.com, and holds a 30% stake in the streaming service Hulu. However, it is Murdoch’s leveraging of News Media that has not just made him a media tycoon, but an undeniable political powerhouse.
In fact, Murdoch is largely credited with helping Donald Trump win the 2016 Election for President of the United States. Using Fox News coupled with his editorial influence and framing of daily news stories that favor deeply conservative political agendas, Murdoch played a role in creating the beast of Trumpism by using his own assets to distribute or broadcast a tsunami of misinformation to blur fact and fiction in the public perception and craft one-sided, conspiratorial hit pieces on Trump’s political opponents and critics in other news media. Fox News has, since 2016, allied with the US President, transformed itself into a State News resource- a 24 hours a day Trump informercial.
But within the Murdoch behemoth, a figure has unexpectedly emerged that has both challenged and criticized the integrity of the establishment- someone pulling back the curtain on the proverbial Wizard whose work has been to shape public opinion.
Murdoch’s youngest Son, James, resigned from the News Corp Board of Directors back in July after citing “Disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.” His older brother, Lachlan, remains on the board with the elder Murdoch.
The move would come as a surprise, except for the fact that James Murdoch, alongside his wife, Kathryn, has a lengthy history of publicly criticizing the Media outlets run by his Father.
In September 2019, he told the New Yorker, “There are views I really disagree with on Fox.” He added, “The connective tissue of our society is being manipulated to make us fight with each other, making us the worst versions of ourselves.”
At the beginning of 2020 as historic wildfires ravaged Australia, Environmental researchers reported that climate change was responsible for the catastrophe that destroyed over 46 million acres, 15,000 homes and buildings and contributed to 500 deaths, as well as the destruction of millions of wildlife habitats and killing even more animals. News Corp, however, used the crisis to populate Fox News and other Murdoch owned publications with conspiracy theorists and climate-change deniers.
James Murdoch released a rare statement rebuking the stream of junk science peddled by his Father’s media monolith.
“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known. They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.” a spokesperson for the couple exclusively told The Daily Beast in January.
By October, the 47 year old revealed himself as a direct antithesis to everything Murdoch-ian. Although he had previously made a practice of avoiding publicity, he spoke directly to the New York Times, saying of his departure from News Corp:
“I reached the conclusion that you can venerate a contest of ideas, if you will, and we all do and that’s important, but it shouldn’t be in a way that hides agendas. A contest of ideas shouldn’t be used to legitimize disinformation. And I think it’s often taken advantage of. And I think at great news organizations, the mission really should be to introduce fact to disperse doubt — not to sow doubt, to obscure fact, if you will.”
In the days after the controversial US Election that saw Donald Trump lose his bid for a second term to former Vice President, Joe Biden, Fox News went on a rampage. Once again, they saturated the airwaves featuring stories rife with baseless allegations of fraud, elevating Donald Trump’s more ludicrous claims of the election being rigged against him by a “Deep State” cabal and inciting violence against Democrat leaders across the country. Fox eagerly played the role of conduit between the President and the lies that fuels the rage of his radicalized base.
James’ wife, Kathryn, responded to a tweet referencing a plea from a journalist featured on CNN, one of Fox News’ chief rivals. The more bipartisan CNN has frequently been labeled as “Establishment Media” and “Fake News” in attacks launched by Fox anchors and opinionaters on the air. Her public missive only amplified she and her Husband’s break from the hardline conservative political agenda relentlessly pushed by Murdoch’s global entities and Trump loyalists.
Since leaving News Corp, James Murdoch, along with his wife, have become visible advocates of truth and the safeguarding of democracy that has been eroded at the hands of his complicit Father and older brother. Although he has benefitted greatly from his involvement with the Murdoch Media Machine with tendrils around the globe and is now worth an estimated 2 Billion dollars, he has used the wealth he has amassed to found Quadrivium, a non-profit organization dedicated wholly to “Restore(ing) the health of our US democracy at a time of increasing polarization and dysfunction within the system.”
Aside from its commitment to pursue the safeguarding democracy, the Murdoch’s have established a network of support and allies intent on promoting awareness and education regarding climate change, ocean health, as well as posturing the organization to combat the dangerous myths surrounding vaccinations and quelling the plague of hatred on social media platforms motivated by political extremism.
Kathryn Murdoch has recently become more prominent on Twitter, advocating for stimulus relief for working class Americans in economic peril due to the coronavirus pandemic…
…Pushing back against Fox News and Murdoch publications that persistently push the American President’s lies and conspiracies…
… and encouraging accountability and conscience.
Although Kathryn Murdoch self-describes as a “Radical Centrist,” as news spread regarding her husband’s departure from News Corp and their more progressive ideologies that conflict directly with the Fox News ideologies became clear, Murdoch inevitably became a target of far-right media and angry Trump supports who blame her- yes, her- for “Ruining” Fox itself despite Mrs. Murdoch never having been, at any time, involved with the company or any of its subsidiaries.
Speaking to host Anna Palmer on Politico’s Women Rule podcast last January, Murdoch said; “I took a step back and have not been public at all. … This is the first time where I’ve really decided that I have a voice and I need to try to use it.”
When it comes to putting your money where your mouth is, both Kathryn and James Murdoch have done just that.