5 Things you need to know about Lachlan Murdoch, the unopposed emperor of News Corp and Fox Corp
Lachlan, the eldest son of Rupert Murdoch, is expected to become the dominating voice with the exit of his more moderate younger brother James
The Murdoch empire witnessed a shock on Friday, July 31, when News Corp announced that James Murdoch has resigned from its board over “disagreements over editorial content.” James, the younger son of veteran Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch, said in a filing to US regulators that he also disagreed with some of the company’s “strategic decisions.” While the exact nature of the disagreement was not known, the BBC reported that he had been at odds with his father politically. While Rupert has pledged support for President Donald Trump, James reportedly made heavy contributions to the campaign of his presumptive opponent Joe Biden. James was on the board of directors since 2013.
The exit of James, 47, has given birth to speculation that it will be his elder brother Lachlan who will make a good gain. BBC has further reported that after James’s resignation, Lachlan, 48, will gain more influence and it has not impressed many who consider the latter to be more conservative, even more than his 89-year-old father. Lachlan is the co-chairman of the board and runs Fox Corp, which includes Fox News and Fox broadcast network, one of the few mainstream media outlets that sympathize with President Trump. Lachlan, who in the past, replaced James as the chief executive officer of Twenty-First Century Fox, oversees Fox News network and presided over some of the most conspiratorial programs ever shown by it.
Five things to know about Lachlan Murdoch
A polished and polite face of right-wing extremism
The tattoo-flecked mass media businessman, who lives with his wife and children in a mansion in Los Angeles, embodies extremism but often evades the eyes since he is not one who operates in front. According to a piece in The Interceptor, Lachlan is “a behind-the-scenes proprietor.” The man is not keen to publicize his own views and he is much different than his father who is blunter in his takes. In November 2018, Lachlan even said publicly that he doesn’t feel embarrassed by Fox News’s programs. “You have to understand that Fox News is the only mass media company in America, in this country, with conservative opinion, with strong conservative opinion in prime time. It’s the only one, alright? It’s not one of a few, it’s the only one. And I frankly feel in this country, we all have to be more tolerant of each other’s views,” Lachlan, who reportedly considers himself a social liberal, said.
Also on the same occasion, he told New Yorker contributor Ken Auletta: “I don’t tell journalists what to say, or what to write. That’s not my role. What I do do, running a media organization, is obviously, you know, work closely with the managers of those newsrooms and with the managers of those newspapers, and it’s important that they get the positioning and the messaging right.”
A subtle defender of racism
In April last year, an article in The New York Times Magazine reported that Lachlan, who was once a philosophy student at Princeton, reassured Fox News’s right-wing host Tucker Carlson of his support after the latter was criticized for espousing White supremacy when speaking about immigration. In December 2018, Carlson said that immigration makes the US “poorer, dirtier and more divided” and was widely criticized for the remark. Even advertisers started dumping his show. But Carlson found support in Lachlan who, according to a New York Times report that cited sources, sent the journalist personal text messages. In the same conference mentioned above, Lachlan said criticism of what Carlson said only made up an expression of intolerance and then went on to back the conservative voice that the network promotes.
The return of the 'prodigal son’
In the wake of the phone-hacking scandal of the early 2010s, Lachlan had refused to return to the family business even as his father requested. He, however, changed his mind later. In March 2014, New Corp issued a press release announcing that Lachlan has been named its non-executive co-chair and quoted Rupert as saying: “In this elevated role, Lachlan will help us lead News Corp forward as we expand our reach.” Reuters described his return in an article titled “Prodigal son returns, Lachlan Murdoch back in News Corp.” James was still there as a senior official but observers could well feel that the way was being paved for Lachlan to make it to the top. In 2018, Rupert decided to sell Disney most of his entertainment assets for a whopping $71 billion. The Murdochs got about $12 billion of the total when the deal closed, the Interceptor said, while the rest went to the shareholders. The holdings that remained under the family included the new company called Fox Corp with Lachlan at its helm.
Overhauling the New York Post
Lachlan might be criticized for his conservative takes but as a media businessman, he also has earned his share of praise. Lachlan overhauled the tabloid and helped its circulation grow by more than 40 percent. During his time, the Post, which was bought by his father for $30.5 million in 1976, reportedly emerged as USA's fastest-growing newspaper and the seventh-largest countrywide.
Co-owning team in the Indian Premier League
Perhaps because of his Australia connections, Lachlan has also business ties with cricket and is one of the co-owners of Rajasthan Royals, a franchise in the popular Indian Premier League. His investment in Indian cricket was reportedly unrelated to his business deal with James Packer, the son of Australian media mogul Kerry Packer. News.com.au had quoted sources in Lachlan’s private investment firm Illyria that he owned only “a very small percentage” of the team.