The youngest son of billionaire Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch says he believes the American media is in for a “reckoning” following the Capitol riots earlier this month, calling “the damage” leading to the incident “profound.”
In a Financial Times interview, James Murdoch, 48, singled out “media property owners” for producing “insidious and uncontrollable force” with their promotion of false information regarding the outcome of the 2020 election.
James, who is Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, said that media organizations fueled the riot by convincing “a substantial portion” of the public to believe “a falsehood” about the election.
“The damage is profound,” he told the FT, while also criticizing some media outlets for their coverage of election fraud.
“The sacking of the Capitol is proof positive that what we thought was dangerous is indeed very, very much so. Those outlets that propagate lies to their audience have unleashed insidious and uncontrollable forces that will be with us for years,” he said.
While he did not mention Fox News, whose board is chaired by his father and whose CEO is older brother Lachlan Murdoch, many observers believe he was making reference to right-leaning outlets for covering President Donald Trump’s claims about election fraud.
Last summer, James Murdoch quit News Corp, his father’s company, saying at the time he was “increasingly uncomfortable” with the job, as well as Fox News’ “legitimizing disinformation.”
His departure came following a 24-year career with News Corp in which he helped build the company into one of the world’s biggest media firms and which also led to a stint as CEO of 21st Century Fox.
James appeared at one time to be the heir apparent to his father after Lachlan left News Corp in July 2005, the Daily Mail reported. But Lachlan eventually returned to the company in recent years and was promoted to CEO over his younger brother.
His comments, published Friday, came as his father hopped a plane to New York with an eye towards making some personnel changes as Fox News’ ratings fell dramatically in the first two weeks of the year.
“I hope that those people who didn’t think it was that dangerous now understand, and that they stop,” James Murdoch told the FT, in reference to ongoing allegations of voting irregularities entertained by rivals like One America News and Newsmax TV, claiming he hadn’t “seen any evidence of that yet.”
Following the interview, James and his wife, Kathryn Hufschmid, released a statement accusing “media property owners” of spreading “lies.”
“Spreading disinformation — whether about the election, public health or climate change — has real world consequences,” the couple said, according to the Daily Mail.
“Many media property owners have as much responsibility for this as the elected officials who know the truth but choose instead to propagate lies,” they added. “We hope the awful scenes we have all been seeing will finally convince those enablers to repudiate the toxic politics they have promoted once and forever.”
As for changes at the network, some outlets have reported that current CEO of Fox News Suzanne Scott and network president Jay Wallace are fighting to keep their jobs. But the network has denied those reports, the Daily Mail noted.
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