James Murdoch, the son of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, has criticised his father’s media empire in his first major interview since departing News Corp’s board in July.
“A contest of ideas shouldn’t be used to legitimize disinformation,” commented Murdoch, in the interview with The New York Times.
Murdoch’s unease with the coverage at some of News Corp’s publications had grown while he was working there, but he told the Times his ability to influence coverage had been limited.
After leaving News Corp James Murdoch set up a foundation that supports democratic participation and environmental causes.
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James Murdoch, the son of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, said he left his father’s media empire because it obscured facts and legitimized disinformation.
In an interview with the New York Times, Murdoch for the first time discussed the reasons for his decision to depart the board of News Corp, the media company owned by his father, which controls publications including The Wall Street Journal and New York Post, as well as several publications in Rupert Murdoch’s native Australia.
His father’s other company, Fox Corp, runs the Fox News network, which is run by his brother, Lachlan Murdoch.
“I reached the conclusion that you can venerate a contest of ideas, if you will, and we all do and that’s important,” Murdoch said in the interview. “But it shouldn’t be in a way that hides agendas. A contest of ideas shouldn’t be used to legitimize disinformation. And I think it’s often taken advantage of. And I think at great news organizations, the mission really should be to introduce fact to disperse doubt — not to sow doubt, to obscure fact, if you will.”
News Corp did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Murdoch’s remarks.
In July, Murdoch announced that he was resigning his position at News Corp and had told The New Yorker about his unease with coverage at Fox News. Top-rated hosts on the network are ardent supporters of President Donald Trump, and the network has spread misinformation about the coronavirus and climate change.
“There are views I really disagree with on Fox,” he remarked.
Murdoch’s Australian papers have also published articles questioning the reality of climate change after devastating wildfires in the country last year. In a statement to The Daily Beast earlier in 2020, James and his wife, Kathryn, had criticized the “ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia” as well as on Fox News.
While James Murdoch was the top executive at News Corp’s UK wing in 2011, the phone-hacking scandal broke. Reporters at British tabloids owned by the company illegally accessed the phones of celebrities, public figures, and crime victims.
In a July statement, Murdoch announced that he was leaving News Corp “due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”
He said he was setting up a foundation, Quadrivium, that would support democracy, voter participation, and climate change projects.
Murdoch told the Times that his ability to influence the editorial directions of publications was limited as a board member.
“If you’re uncomfortable with those decisions, you have to take stock of whether or not you want to be associated and can you change it or not. I decided that I could be much more effective outside.”
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