Rupert Murdoch is stepping down from his chairman roles at Fox and News Corp., potentially aiding Republican front-runner Donald Trump in his quest to retake the White House.
Murdoch on Thursday announced that he would be transitioning to chairman emeritus, effective in mid-November, and elevating his son, Lachlan, to the top role just one year before the next presidential election.
“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,” Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement shared by Fox with Newsweek. “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.”
The announcement was accompanied by a letter penned by Rupert to all of his employees, informing them of the upcoming change and how his “passionate, principled” son will take the helm.
In the letter, also shared with Newsweek, he thanked everyone on camera and behind the scenes, mentioning truck drivers, office cleaners and assistants who aid in the day-to-day operations.
“Our companies are in robust health, as am I,” wrote Rupert, who will still be involved in vital decisions. “Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years—I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them.
“But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense. 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.”
Fox did not comment when asked how the change will impact the network and its viewers.
Lachlan Murdoch and his Trump approach
The change comes after a tumultuous past year for the conservative network that continues with multiple lawsuits.
This week, New York City’s pension funds and the state of Oregon sued Fox Corporation for alleged lies related to the 2020 election.
In April, Fox and Dominion Voting Systems agreed to settle a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit for $787.5 million based on statements made by Fox News in relation to the legitimacy of the 2020 election. Prior to the settlement, Fox was sued by election technology company Smartmatic for $2.7 billion.
Trump, in the aftermath of the lawsuit settlement, said he thought he was entitled to some of the financial damages due to years of the network’s “fake news, hoaxes, scams and investigations” into him.
Also in April, the network let go of arguably its biggest star, Tucker Carlson, for reasons that remain unknown. Trump skipped the first GOP debate hosted by Fox News and instead appeared in an interview with Carlson that was posted on X, formerly Twitter.
He has been at odds with Rupert Murdoch and Fox News for a while, in part due to the now ex-chairman saying following the 2020 election that Trump would be irrelevant by the time Joe Biden was inaugurated.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page published a piece in August imploring conservatives to clear the field for a single alternative to Trump, whom they say can defeat Biden but focuses too much on his “grievances and legal peril.”
However, even amid four indictments in state and federal cases just within the past four months, Trump remains the clear favorite to once again be the GOP nominee in 2024. Some polls show him with 40- and 50-point leads.
“Fox News and the Wall Street Journal fight me because Murdoch is a globalist,” Trump said in a video posted in late August to his Truth Social account. “And I am America First. It’s very simple, and it will always be that way, so get used to it.”
He has also accused the program Fox & Friends of not positively reporting on his poll numbers.
Patricia Crouse, a political science practitioner in residence at the University of New Haven, told Newsweek via email that Lachlan Murdoch will probably continue his father’s approach as it pertains to Trump-related coverage.
“I am not sure Lachlan wants to risk bankrupting the company simply to get back on Trump’s good side,” Crouse said. “That would not be good business practice.
“And the reality is, Trump still has plenty of cheerleaders, like [Sean] Hannity and Jesse Watters, to prop him up on Fox. I think Lachlan can just continue to do what his father was doing and be OK.”
Laura Loomer, a staunch Trump supporter, told Newsweek via text that she believes the move is a sign of “internal strife and management issues” within the company—a result of Fox viewers abandoning the network due to Rupert’s attacks on Trump and Carlson.
“Lachlan is more liberal, which means he will accelerate the downfall of Fox News by turning more voters off with his progressive agenda,” Loomer said. “In the end, the inevitable death of Fox News is a win-win for President Trump and the American people who are tired of foreigners like Rupert Murdoch meddling in our elections with their anti-Trump globalist drivel.”
Newsweek reached out to the Trump campaign via email for comment.