It’s hard to imagine how Rupert Murdoch’s retirement could make Fox News worse but son Lachlan Murdoch taking over will almost surely make it so.
Rupert Murdoch’s retirement memo to staff, in which he claimed he’ll remain actively involved in the business, was surprisingly combative, jaw-droppingly hypocritical and shockingly unaware. Excerpt via Mediaite, with emphases added:
My father firmly believed in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause. Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. 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.
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.
Does billionaire Murdoch seriously think he’s not an elite? Or does he think watching the Super Bowl with Elon Musk in a sky box is something regular Joes do? As for “open contempt for those who are not members of their rarified class,” has Murdoch not noticed the contempt for and demonization of the poor routinely aired on Fox News?
And, by the way, Rupert, nothing says contempt for the non-rarefied like your network peddling lies to viewers while admitting the truth behind the scenes. Or refusing to admit what is known to be true. Fox’s lies about Dominion Voting Systems has already cost it $787.5 million. There will likely be another large payout to Smartmatic, another voting technology company Murdoch’s network smeared. Ditto for the Ray Epps defamation lawsuit. Then there are the related shareholder lawsuits.
As for Murdoch whining about the media being “in cahoots” with elites and “peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth” – did Murdoch forget he admitted doing exactly that in a recent deposition? Or that after wishing colleagues get fired for telling the truth, Jesse Wattes was promoted to the top prime time positions?
If Murdoch doesn’t know his network is the propaganda arm of the GOP/MAGA right-wing, his retirement is long overdue. But I think he does know.
Sadly, son Lachlan, who formerly shared control of the media empire, will almost certainly take the network even further downhill. Although he was reportedly on board with firing Tucker Carlson, Lachlan was also known to have been very close to Carlson. In 2021, it was reported that Lachlan moved to Sydney and had delegated much of the running of the company to Fox Corp.'s chief legal officer Viet Dinh. But Dinh has already announced he will depart at the end of the year.
In the video below, Brian Stelter, who probably knows more about Fox News than anyone not working there, notes that Lachlan is more conservative than his father. Stelter does not predict dramatic changes at Fox but says Rupert's departure open questions “about how involved Lachlan is and whether he’s the right man to run the ship, to steer the ship.” He said it’s possible that with greater control Lachlan Murdoch will stop the lies and conspiracy theories “from spreading all across his networks and his publiciations but that’s a very big if.”
Stelter is being diplomatic there. He almost surely knows Lachlan Murdoch will not do so. After all, he’s the guy who greenlighted Carlson’s Jan. 6 revisionist history despite complaints from respected Fox News anchors. That decision prompted the departure of Chris Wallace, among others. Lachlan Murdoch also denied the blatant white supremacism of Tucker Carlson – thus opening the door for it to become a staple on the network.
The Daily Beast has this:
[A] former network employee worried that Fox News could be in a “worse” position under the Murdoch scion, noting that Lachlan had already revealed himself to be “feckless” when dealing with the network’s top stars.
“Now that he’s coming in at a time when the network is in a rudderless place, the stars will only get worse with their lies,” the ex-staffer said. “I would not be surprised if we see them get involved in another Dominion-like scandal with their lies because Lachlan will be too craven and cowardly to rein them in.”
Media Matters president and CEO, Angelo Carusone summed it up best:
The world is worse off because of Rupert Murdoch. No one should sugarcoat the damage he caused. Making matters worse, his parting act — handing the reins to Lachlan Murdoch — is akin to tossing a match onto the kindling he stacked.
Lachlan certainly is a less competent leader than his father, but his worldview is considerably more brutal. His leadership will likely just intensify the misconduct, misinformation, and malevolence that have come to define Murdoch media.
You can watch Stelter discuss Rupert Murdoch’s retirement below, from the September 21, 2023 MSNBC Reports.
Wrinkled Rupert was terrible. His evil spawn Lachlan will be even worse.