Australian media mogul and Fox News founder Ruper Murdoch has announced that at age 92 he will be stepping down as chairman of his flagship companies Fox and News Corp, and adopting a role as “chairman emeritus.” The official title will transfer to his son Lachlan Murdoch, 52, in November.
“I am writing to let you all know that I have decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus at Fox and News [Corp],” Murdoch wrote in a letter to staff. “For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.”
Murdoch is stepping down at the end of a tumultuous year for Fox News, the conservative media powerhouse he has presided over — and whose sensational approach to politics he spearheaded — for decades. The network in April settled a lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, which was the subject of 2020 election conspiracy theories promoted by the network, for $787.5 million. Murdoch was deposed in the case, and admitted that Fox News hosts “endorsed” false claims about the election. Days later, the network ousted Tucker Carlson, its most popular host.
Not unrelated to its 2020 election lies is the network’s struggle to manage Donald Trump. Fox News has played an instrumental role in the former president’s political rise, and yet he regularly harangues it for more flattering coverage. The Dominion lawsuit has led to the release of a trove of documents making clear that Murdoch had had it with Trump following the 2020 election and around Jan. 6. Trump attacked Murdoch and his executives earlier this year as a “group of MAGA hating Globalist RINOS,” and last month he skipped the first Republican primary debate — which the network hosted — to sit down with Carlson. Rolling Stone reported that Trump told allies he skipped the debate to punish Murdoch.
It’s not totally shocking, then, that Murdoch is stepping away, although he’s made clear has no plans to disappear completely. “In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas. Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community. I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest, and reaching out to you with thoughts, ideas, and advice. When I visit your countries and companies, you can expect to see me in the office late on a Friday afternoon.”
Lachlan commented in a statement of his own. “On behalf of the FOX and News Corp boards of directors, leadership teams, and all the shareholders who have benefited from his hard work, I congratulate my father on his remarkable 70-year career,” he wrote. “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. We are grateful that he will serve as Chairman Emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.”