Sometimes, allowing people to have their say before weighing in on a subject is beneficial. The announcement by 92-year-old Rupert Murdoch that he is stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corp. is a case in point. Only a few days have passed since the media mogul revealed he would turn the keys to his kingdom over to eldest son Lachlan. This favored heir-apparent walks with the whole Murdoch enchilada. That’s bound to make for a few uncomfortable moments when the media mogul’s six children gather for dinner. But sibling rivalry may be the least of the many issues facing the publishing and broadcasting empire since both the left and right have a bone to pick with the house that Murdoch built.
The leftist media predictably had a field day running Rupert Murdoch down and then using their feet to grind Fox News Channel and his other endeavors into the ground:
- “Fox promised news but its cash crop was feelings. Making viewers feel — feel angry, feel betrayed, feel threatened — was vital to keeping them tuned in for hours.” – The New York Times
- “Over the decades, Murdoch courted controversy with salacious coverage in his tabloids, appealing to readers’ fears of crime and immigration and aerobic appetite for sex scandals. Yet the bare-knuckled approach often led to periodic scandals in his own properties.” – NPR
- “Somebody somewhere at Fox News once came up with the slogan ‘fair and balanced’ to describe its newscast. To everyone outside of Fox News — as well as a lot of people inside it — it was a punchline, not a credo. This brand of what can’t really be called journalism reached its apex — or its nadir, depending on how you look at the world, and how you look at truth — when Donald Trump ran for president and won.” – Arizona Republic
- “Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has and continues to push dangerous lies, promote bigotry and amplify intolerance, which has poisoned democracy and delayed action on climate change. His legacy? Irreparable harm to society and our planet. Good riddance.” – Transform Politics
Meanwhile, many on the political right share a disdain for Murdoch’s news entities and reveal a contemptuousness that, at times, eclipses the left. This palpable rancor most often comes from the pro-Trump faction but is not limited to MAGA folks. The Lincoln Project is one such anti-Trump organization that posted a nasty-gram on the former Twitter platform: “Rupert Murdoch has had a decades-long influence in media, and it has caused millions of Americans to fall into the grips of Trumpism. His damage to our democracy cannot be overstated.”
Fox News took a ratings beating following the 2020 election that continues to fester. Pro-Trumpists tuned out the cable outfit in droves following their election night coverage. According to industry ratings organization TV Newser, “FNC shed -21% in total day viewers—and -32% in total day demo—along with a -13% in total primetime viewers and a -19% drop in the primetime demo relative to August 2022.”
Murdoch’s flagship cable organization paid dearly for its coverage of the 2020 election when Fox News Network settled a defamation lawsuit with the company that provided the bulk of voting machines for more than $787 million. Indeed, Fox found a way to lose both sides of the political spectrum that fateful night. Calling Arizona early for Joe Biden was a miscalculation that haunts the network to this day.
The Legacy of Rupert Murdoch
It may be too soon to write a corporate obituary for the Murdoch media empire; however, with everyone from all political stripes on their tail, the folks at Fox need a course correction. Now it’s Lachlan Murdoch’s turn to try to succeed where his father failed by taking to heart the “fair and balanced” mantra. Some are speculating the father-to-son power shift could spark a rebirth in the company’s relationship with former President Donald Trump. Should that occur, one wonders if the pro-MAGA crowd will return to FNC.
In passing the torch to Lachlan, Rupert Murdoch intoned: “Most of the media is … peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.” Perhaps it would be wise for Lachlan Murdoch to heed this advice as he takes over the reins of power at the Murdoch media empire.