James Murdoch QUITS board of News Corp: Rupert Murdoch’s son blames ‘disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets’ in terse resignation letter

  • James Murdoch sent his letter of resignation from the News Corp board Friday
  • Cited disagreements over ‘certain editorial content’ published by news outlets
  • News Corp is parent company of Wall Street Journal, New York Post and News UK
  • James was on board of directors from 2013 and was the CEO of 21st Century Fox

James Murdoch has quit the board of News Corp as he blames ‘disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets’.

The 47-year-old, who is the younger son of media mogul Rupert, had been on the board of directors since 2013 and was the CEO of 21st Century Fox.

He said: ‘My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.’

He did not go into detail about his differences with the company, but has been publicly critical of its news platforms in the past.

It means the board will now consist of ten members, headed by Rupert and his oldest son Lachlan.

James Murdoch, the younger son of Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch (pictured together in 2013) announced he is resigning from the board of News Corp on Friday

James Murdoch, the younger son of Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch (pictured together in 2013) announced he is resigning from the board of News Corp on Friday

In his resignation letter, James cited 'disagreements over certain editorial content' as the reason for his departure

In his resignation letter, James cited ‘disagreements over certain editorial content’ as the reason for his departure

James has spoken out against his father’s company on a number of occasions, with him and his wife Kathryn slamming the family business for promoting climate change ‘denials’ during the Australian bushfire crisis in January.

The pair released a statement saying they were ‘disappointed’ by the coverage of the fires by Fox News and other News Corp outlets. 

‘Kathryn and James’s views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known.

‘They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary,’ their statement read.

The ‘denials’ were in reference to allegations arsonists and not climate change were to blame for the destructive wildfires.

His comments were perceived as ‘unprecedented’ and sparked speculation of a feud within the family since he rarely speaks publicly about his role in the business.

James also opened up about his professional break from the family business in a revealing interview with the New Yorker last year.

James and older brother Lachlan (far left) had shared power at 21st Century Fox, but the sale of much of the Fox entertainment business to Disney in 2019 saw James depart as CEO. (Pictured: Rupert Murdoch with his sons in 2016)

James and older brother Lachlan (far left) had shared power at 21st Century Fox, but the sale of much of the Fox entertainment business to Disney in 2019 saw James depart as CEO. (Pictured: Rupert Murdoch with his sons in 2016) 

Rumors of a family rift have swirled over the years after eldest son Lachlan (pictured with James, father Rupert and mom Anna in 1987) became heir apparent of his dad's media empire

Rumors of a family rift have swirled over the years after eldest son Lachlan (pictured with James, father Rupert and mom Anna in 1987) became heir apparent of his dad’s media empire

He found himself out of work when Fox merged with Disney early last year, but also $2billion richer thanks to his shares in the company.

This seems to have caused some friction between father and son and when asked if he had recently spoken to his former boss, James said:  ‘There are periods of time when we do not.’

He was similarly laconic when asked if he had ever watched Succession, the HBO show that is loosely based on his family’s empire. ‘Not even a peek. Why would I?’ asked Murdoch.

He did note things were great post-Fox, saying: ‘I just feel very lucky to have the opportunity at this point to make a clean break, and literally have an empty slate.

James is known as the more liberal Murdoch brother, while older brother Lachlan’s views seem to be more aligned with those of his conservative father.

In January, James, the more liberal of the Murdoch brothers, and his wife Kathryn spoke out against the family business for promoting climate change 'denials' during the Australian bushfire crisis

In January, James, the more liberal of the Murdoch brothers, and his wife Kathryn spoke out against the family business for promoting climate change ‘denials’ during the Australian bushfire crisis

Lachlan, pictured with wife Sarah, is executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp, home to conservative news network Fox News, the Fox broadcast and sports networks and local TV stations

Lachlan, pictured with wife Sarah, is executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp, home to conservative news network Fox News, the Fox broadcast and sports networks and local TV stations

He was even last year reportedly looking to set up a $1billion new project including a liberal news outlet, in stark contrast to his father’s Fox News.

In March it was further suggested he pumped money into start-ups looking to combat fake news.

His firm Lupa Systems was said to have teamed up with Betaworks to create a ‘more sustainable news ecosystem’.

Rupert designed his companies to benefit his family, making certain that he and his children always had control, meaning that his children and generations to follow would be taken care of financially.

The tycoon was able to show that plan in work earlier last year year, when upon the sale of Fox’s film and television assets to Disney, each of his six children pocketed approximately $2billion.

One thing Murdoch has not left his children with however is a plan for the future of his media empire, refusing to officially name an heir despite making no secret of his preferred child.

THE MURDOCH FAMILY MEDIA EMPIRE

RUPERT MURDOCH, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF NEWS CORP 

The Australian-born mogul began building his media empire in Australia by acquiring numerous publications in the 1950s, before entering the British newspaper market in 1969, and expanding to the US in 1974. 

He founded News Corporation in 1980, which quickly evolved into one of the largest media groups in the world owning assets in print, news, and television.

In 2013, News Corporation split into two sister companies, News Corp and 21st Century Fox. The latter was later rebranded as Fox Corporation after the majority of its assets were sold to The Walt Disney Company in 2019. 

Murdoch currently serves as the executive chairman of News Corp and the chairman of Fox Corporation. He is estimated to be worth $17billion. 

LACHLAN MURDOCH, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF FOX CORPORATION, CO-CHAIR OF NEWS CORP

Lachlan Murdoch, 48, the eldest of the Murdoch children, is the heir apparent to News Corp Executive Chairman Rupert and is co-chairman of News Corp. He was named executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp in 2019, after 21st Century Fox was sold to Disney. 

Before the sale, younger brother James had been the CEO of the company and Lachlan was executive chairman. Lachlan is also chairman of Australian entertainment company NOVA Entertainment, which operates a number of radio stations across the country.

JAMES MURDOCH, FORMER BOARD MEMBER OF NEWS CORP

The younger son of Rupert Murdoch, James, 47, had been on the board of News Corp since 2013. He and brother Lachlan had shared power at 21st Century Fox, but the sale of much of the Fox entertainment business to Disney in 2019 saw James depart as CEO. 

Since then, he has worked at the helm of investment fund Lupa Systems. 

James is considered more liberal than his older brother who is CEO of Fox Corp, home to conservative news network Fox News, the Fox broadcast and sports networks and local TV stations. 

James has been critical of News Corp’s editorial decisions and has said he disagreed with Fox News coverage. He resigned from the board on July 31, 2020.

PRUDENCE MURDOCH, NON-EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER OF NEWS CORP

Prudence Murdoch, 62, is the eldest child of Rupert Murdoch through his first marriage with Patricia Booker. 

She formerly worked as journalist for now-defunct British tabloid, News of the World, which was owned by her father.

Prudence was once described in the media as the ‘only one of [Murdoch’s] children not directly competing for his business affections.’

ELISABETH MURDOCH, MEDIA EXECUTIVE AND FORMER CHAIRPERSON OF SHINE GROUP

Elisabeth is Rupert Murdoch’s daughter from his second marriage with Anna Maria Torv. Born in Sydney, she moved to London in 1990s where she worked on the operations side of BSkyB, ran by her father. 

She founded UK-based TV programming company Shine Limited in 2001, which was sold to News Corp ten years later. 

She currently serves as executive chairman of production company Sister.

GRACE AND CHLOE MURDOCH

The sisters, aged 19 and 17, are Rupert’s daughters from his third marriage to Wendi Deng.

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It is not his oldest child Prudence or the next in line Elisabeth, who has found incredible success outside the family business in emerging media markets.

It is not James, the son who has stood by his side for decades and weathered the fallout from the 2011 hacking scandal at News of the World and the 2016 sexual assault scandal at Fox News.

It is Lachlan, Murdoch’s older son, who is the ‘golden child’ according to multiple sources.

And the empire looks to be his for the taking – but it is not clear if he is interested in the job.

The family company and its future were the focus of a New York Times piece last year that provided an in depth look at the mogul’s two sons while completely ignoring the lives and accomplishments of his four daughters.

By some accounts, Murdoch’s heirs are now battling behind the scenes for control of the empire, with the two top contenders appearing to be his sons James and Lachlan.

The brothers have had a tumultuous relationship over the years which had become more frayed than ever of recent after Lachlan was promoted over his younger brother by their father, despite James’ loyalty to the family company.

Others claim however most of the children have soured on the notion of taking over from their father.

The media mogul is the father of six children, who range in age from 61 to 16. The oldest is Prudence, who is Murdoch’s only child with his first wife, Australian model Patricia Booker.

She has held various positions in her father’s companies but now lives in Australia where she is largely focused on raising her three children.

Prue, as she is called by her family, has made it clear she is not interested in taking the reins and did not even attend college after graduating from Dalton in New York.

That does not mean she would oppose seeing her second husband, Alasdair MacLeod, move up the ranks at News Corp – despite her protests about him working with her father, or her offspring – who are Murdoch’s three oldest grandchildren – landing nice roles at the company.

But as Vanity Fair reported back in 2008, Prue is in many ways the one link the family has to reality.

‘She gets away with saying what the others won’t, even things that the others won’t think, and she takes the various family members much less seriously than they do themselves,’ reported the magazine.

‘This involves, not least of all, seeing her three oldest half-siblings – Elisabeth, Lachlan, and James – as, each in his or her way, master-race prototypes.’

It is those three who have long seem poised to battle it out for their father’s media empire – Elisabeth, 50, Lachlan, 47, and James, 46.

All three work in media, with Elisabeth currently experiencing success with Vertical Networks, a startup that provides app-based series that are produced to be viewed in cellular devices.

The relationship between Lachlan and his father has run hot and cold over the years, but that all changed back in 2014 when Murdoch’s older son returned to New York to work for News Corp. Now, he is the Chairman and CEO of the Fox Corporation.

James, the youngest of the three, was the most loyal, staying by his father’s side and joining News Corp shortly after he dropped out of Harvard.

That devotion was tested however when Murdoch elected to promote Lachlan over James after he return to work in the US following an extended stint in Australia.

The brothers already strained relationship only got worse when Lachlan informed James of this decision over lunch.

James even briefly quit the company, but then ultimately decided to return before then exiting for good. 

Murdoch’s youngest children are Grace, 18, and Chloe, 16, the New York-based daughters born to Murdoch’s third wife Wendi Deng.

Chloe is currently attending an Ivy League college while her sister attends private school in Manhattan.

The ambitions of the two teenagers are unknown, but their fiercely intelligent mother has no doubt seen to it that the two get not one bit less than their older half-siblings.

James, meanwhile, is a longtime environmental advocate. His wife Kathryn works at the Clinton Climate Initiative and the pair are known contributors to the Clinton Foundation.

The couple last month endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by donating $615,000 each to his campaign after previously donating to former candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Rupert and Lachlan said in a statement: ‘We’re grateful to James for his many years of service to the company. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.’

News Corp is one of the two major media conglomerates owned by the Murdochs, the other being Fox Corporation, which was established after The Walt Disney Company acquired the majority of 21st Century Fox last year.

The two sister companies were formed following the split of the original News Corporation, founded in 1980, in 2013.

James previously served as the CEO of 21st Century Fox but stepped down following the sale. Since then, he has worked at the helm of the investment fund Lupa Systems.

News Corp also publishes major papers in Australia and the UK and owns the HarperCollins book publisher.     

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