Tag: rupert murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch Retires, But His Destructive Legacy Remains

During Rupert Murdoch’s 25-year tenure as the head of Fox News Channel, he created a right-wing misinformation machine, subsidized by cable customers, that played an essential role in former President Donald Trump’s rise to power and subsequent attempts to stay in power by stealing the 2020 election. The network has divided not just Americans, but also their families, with the anger and bigotry stoked by Fox destroying relationships among loved ones.

Rupert Murdoch announced he was stepping down after over 25 years at the helm of Fox Corp.

  • Rupert Murdoch announced in September that he would step down as the chairman of Fox Corp. and News Corp. in November, leaving his son Lachlan Murdoch as chairman and CEO. Rupert Murdoch launched the Fox News cable channel with political strategist Roger Ailes in 1996, creating a hallmark for conservative TV commentary. [The Associated Press, 9/21/23; The New York Times, 9/21/23]

During his tenure, Murdoch created a right-wing misinformation machine that helped bring Trump to power and supported his lies

  • Rupert Murdoch amassed a fortune by building Fox News into a right-wing misinformation machine that played an essential role in the rise of former President Donald Trump and his deadly attempts to steal the 2020 election. As Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz wrote, “The network’s noxious mix of right-wing propaganda, bigotry, lies and demagoguery attracted the largest audience in cable news while shaping the Republican Party’s base in its image.” [Media Matters, 1/6/21; MSNBC, 9/21/23]
  • Murdoch admitted that he let Fox News personalities push election conspiracy theories, despite knowing that they were bogus. Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against the network revealed that even though Rupert Murdoch thought Fox was “uniquely positioned to state the message that the election was not stolen,” he agreed the profit motive was the deciding factor: “It is not red or blue, it is green.” [Media Matters, 2/27/23]
  • The network also pumped coronavirus conspiracy theories out of its airwaves as the country struggled to respond to a deadly pandemic. In just 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the network promoted COVID-19 misinformation over 13,000 times on its weekday programs. [Media Matters, 12/30/20, 12/30/20]

Fox has divided the country, including many family relationships

  • Writer Megan Garber explained in The Atlantic in 2020 that Fox had developed its own language, and that “at this point, some Americans speak English; others speak Fox.” She added: “The result is disorientation. The result is mass suspicion. … Fox has helped to create a nation of people who share everything but the ability to talk with one another.” [The Atlantic, 9/16/20]
  • Journalist Luke O’Neil collected stories, including his own, of “families torn apart by toxic cable news” and published them in The Guardian and New York magazine. [The Guardian, 4/12/19; New York magazine, 4/9/19]
  • One person told O’Neil: “I hate what Fox News has done to almost everyone in my family. It’s absolute poison and the only thing I think is worse is that there are people who think that destroying the morals and conscience of multiple generations is worth a few more bucks. I absolutely refuse to believe that people like [Fox host Sean] Hannity don’t know what they are doing.”
  • Another person told O’Neil: “I called at Thanksgiving to say hi, which was when my dad called Obama the N-word during the call, apropos of nothing.” They lamented that they “pretty much don’t go home any more” because their “family and friends all have broken Fox brain,” adding, “I’m not totally sure when it started since I haven’t lived at home since 2002. It slowly built, but the rift probably started around 2008, when I was volunteering for Obama. It got the most heated when my mom went to a Trump rally in Phoenix ahead of the 2016 election.”
  • O’Neil: “Dozens … talked about the sad lonely twilight of their parents’ or grandparents’ lives, having been spurned by, or having disowned much of their families over political disagreements.” O’Neil wrote: “Whatever the actual direction of causality, there are many, many Americans who blame Fox News for changes in their loved ones, and many people out there who feel as though their friends and family members have been lost to a 24/7 stream of right-wing propaganda.”
  • Edward Lyngar in Salon: “We’re losing people like my father to the despair of Fox News, and it’s all by design.” Lyngar wrote that his father “is a kind and generous man and a good father, but over the past five or 10 years, he’s become so conservative that I can’t even find a label for it. What has changed? He consumes a daily diet of nothing except Fox News.” [Salon, 2/27/14]
  • A Boston Globe article recounted documentary filmmaker Jen Senko’s story of her dad’s Fox-induced “descent into anger.” Senko told the Globe: “He became a person we hated being around and we didn’t know. … It was a really horrible period of time for us. … It was a nightmare, both my brothers blocked him, I blocked him.” According to the report, “Senko’s stomach clenched every time she thought of visiting. Her dad was angry all the time. And Senko knew exactly what was to blame: The steady drip-feed of outrage he listened to every day.” [The Boston Globe, 5/1/19]

Cable customers are subsidizing Fox’s misinformation, with some objecting because of how it has harmed their families

  • Cable companies' customers are being forced to subsidize Fox’s lies. Cable companies pay channels' “carriage fees” to carry their channel, and Fox charges a higher amount than all other networks aside from EPSN, which is then passed on to customers. “These carriage fees are now so valuable to Fox that reporting from Media Matters has found that Fox would still have a profit margin of more than 35% even if it sold no advertising,” The Guardian wrote. [The Guardian, 8/15/23]
  • Over 165,000 individuals have signed the #NoFoxFee campaign, demanding that their cable providers stop forcing consumers to subsidize Fox News’ lies. Some of them have also left public notes on how consuming Fox News has changed their families. [Common Cause, accessed 11/16/23]
  • A #NoFoxFee petition signer wrote that her brother and sister-in-law have “totally bought into the lies and misinformation” they see on Fox. The signer added: “We can no longer talk about current events” and that their relatives think “all other news sources were lying to them” as a result of watching Fox News, saying that makes them feel “very estranged from them.”
  • Another signer wrote: “I no longer have relationships with my mother or sisters because they have become radicalized to become fascist sympathizers by their viewing of cable Fox ‘News.’”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Charlie Kirk

Rupert Murdoch, Charlie Kirk And Gen Z's Rejection Of The Far Right

Rupert Murdoch announced on September 21 that he will be stepping down as chairman of Fox Corp. and News Corp. after a 70-year career poisoning global media with right-wing lies and hate. Fox is now in the hands of Lachlan Murdoch, whose track record at the company indicates he is even more grimly ideological than his father, serving as the main force backing Tucker Carlson’s on-air white supremacy and pushing the network to support Donald Trump’s 2020 election lies despite their financial consequences.

While Rupert Murdoch repeatedly made clear in his announcement that he does not intend to take his thumb entirely off the scale of his outlets, the question of who will now rise to prominence in the right-wing media ecosystem lingers. In just the last few years, the movement’s founding fathers, including Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, and Rush Limbaugh, have died or stepped away, leaving conservative media without a center of gravity. Lachlan Murdoch and other rising right-wing media figures are jockeying to lead the hate and misinformation machine into the next generation.

One of these figures is Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk.

Since first appearing on the scene in 2012, when he had just barely graduated from high school, Kirk has built TPUSA into a reported $80 million media empire. The organization hosts numerous shows and has millions of followers across multiple social media platforms. Kirk himself is a Salem Radio host whose nationally syndicated program is broadcast in Limbaugh’s old time slot.

TPUSA is purportedly an organization representing the next generation of conservative activists, with Kirk as their leading voice. But there is scant evidence that the group has a genuine connection with Gen Z, whose social and political attitudes are overwhelmingly liberal. An October 2021 internal presentation obtained by The Verge stated that only 15 percent of Turning Point’s Instagram audience is actually student-aged. As the organization’s own documentation states: “The content that is going out right now is completely missing our target audience.” (TPUSA told The Verge that “the presentations in question contain multiple inaccuracies and erroneous data.”)

As the original shapers of right-wing media fade into history, Kirk seemingly hopes to capture the attention of the next generation and raise his own profile in the conservative movement by leaning into increasingly hardcore far-right positions. On the very same day that Murdoch announced he was stepping down, Kirk took to his radio show and launched into a vile, racist attack on migrants on the southern border, declaring that a “foreign invasion” of “fighting-age young males who will end up raping many of your daughters.”

He also specifically invoked and validated the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory.

“Obviously the Democrat Party supports this because of power,” Kirk declared. “They smear us and slander us when we bring up the great replacement. The Castro brothers themselves have said that was the reason.”

“You should be at fever-pitch anger,” he concluded.

Kirk is only reflecting the lasting influence of Tucker Carlson, who brought the great replacement conspiracy theory to mainstream conservative audiences with the full backing of Lachlan Murdoch, who is now the sole chair of his family’s global media empire.

But the Charlie Kirk of today would be unrecognizable to who he was yesterday. In his comprehensive history of the first 10 years of TPUSA, University of North Georgia rhetoric professor Matthew Boedy notes that as the organization has grown, Kirk has expressed increasingly extreme views, including on the topic of immigration.

In 2019, Kirk came under attack by the white nationalist “groyper” movement after he stated that “highly-educated immigrants should get ‘a green card’ stapled to their U.S. college diplomas.” This kicked off the so-called “groyper wars” in which followers of neo-Nazi Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes repeatedly confronted Kirk with racist and antisemitic dog whistles while he was on a speaking tour. Kirk ultimately penned an apologia on American Greatness, the same far-right blog that had launched the initial criticism.

Just recently, Fuentes bragged that his followers had infiltrated Turning Point USA and his one-time target had now adopted his messaging.

“I think in 2023, Charlie Kirk, all these others, they sound way more like me, today, than they sound like themselves four years ago,” Fuentes said, before launching into an attack on Jewish people.

Kirk has also radicalized significantly against LGBTQ people.

In 2019, he posted a video of an exchange with an audience member labeled “CHARLIE KIRK TAKES DOWN ANTI-GAY EXTREMIST.” In the video, the audience member condemned Kirk for accepting gay people in the conservative movement. Kirk defended himself and gay conservatives, asking, “What does what they do in their private life concern you so much?” and adding that if you do not embrace and love all people as Jesus did, “then you, sir, are not a conservative.”

As Boedy points out, a TPUSA chapter guide from 2017 specifically instructs participants: “no talk about abortion, gay marriage, etc.”

Since then, Kirk has become one of the most extreme voices singling out LGBTQ people for violence across the right-wing media.

  • In August, Kirk said that trans people who join fraternities and sororities should “be made fun of so much, bullied so much, crying so much, they would get themselves out.”
  • Kirk has referred to trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney with an anti-trans slur on multiple occasions.
  • Kirk called LGBTQ identification a “social contagion.”
  • During 2023’s Pride Month, Kirk vowed to remember “all the gay flag stuff” at Starbucks after several stores caved to right-wing pressure to take down Pride decorations.
  • On the first day of Pride Month, Kirk tweeted, “Pride is a sin.”
  • Kirk has argued that “monogamous heterosexual marriage should be a prerequisite to adoption.”
  • In 2022, Kirk warned that gay people “are not happy just having marriage. Instead, they now want to corrupt your children.”

But perhaps Kirk’s biggest transformation has been on the role of religion.

Boedy tracks this transformation masterfully. As TPUSA was getting off the ground, Kirk criticized the conservative movement of decades past for evangelizing too much, claimed to promote right-wing values “through a secular worldview,” and once told an audience that “he saw his job as the face of TPUSA as ‘no different than’ being a plumber or electrician, who likely don’t tell everyone they met about their religion.”

In 2021, Kirk launched the TPUSA Faith initiative, which he has used as a platform to increasingly lean into Christian nationalism. Since then, TPUSA Faith launched Freedom Life Church, a network of TPUSA-aligned congregations with the expressed goal “to change the trajectory of our nation by restoring America's biblical values.”

In 2022, he declared, “There is no separation of church and state.”

Kirk has also falsely claimed that the Founding Fathers based our system of government on the Book of Genesis, and speaks of the country as engaged in a “spiritual battle.”

The Murdochs and Fox News are also directly responsible for helping Kirk launch his career. As TPUSA was just getting off the ground, Kirk started becoming a semi-regular guest on Fox News as the youthful face of opposing the Obama presidency, often hosted by Neil Cavuto. Kirk has appeared at least 235 times on weekday Fox shows since 2018, though his last appearance was May 18, 2023, having since seemingly been blacklisted from the network.

Like the rest of us, Charlie Kirk is getting older, but high school and college students are staying the same age. Conservative media across the board face an uphill battle if they want to win over Gen Z. So far, Kirk’s strategic approach to inheriting the house that Rupert (and Rush) built has been to amplify the extremist fringes.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Rupert Murdoch

Doddering Murdoch Was In Denial Over Dominion Lawsuit

This week New York Magazine published a sprawling account of the lead-up to former Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s ouster from the network, detailing Rupert Murdoch’s state of “denial” surrounding the $787.5 million dollar settlement his company was forced to pay to Dominion Voting Systems.

Murdoch on Thursday announced he was stepping down as chairman of Fox and News Corp.

Dominion Voting Systems successfully sued Fox News for defamation after the network accused the company of rigging voting machines to steal votes from former President Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election. In April 2023, Fox News agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million and acknowledged, in a statement, “the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false."

The suit, Wolff notes “was far and away the largest defamation award ever made, outside of Alex Jones.”

In an excerpt from his new book, The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty, Wolff reports that after a Delaware Superior Court judge in June 2022 "ruled that the suit could also extend to Fox News’ parent company, Fox Corp,” a visitor to the billionaire’s Montana Ranch found Murdoch “absolutely unwilling to consider any view in which Fox could be at fault.

Wolff writes:

Murdoch, the visitor discovered, was stuck in a place far from the real world. The Dominion suit had somehow become an attack on him and on his long career. He seemed angrily trapped in the company’s desperate and preposterous logic: that it was just airing the newsworthy opinions of important political figures.

“Why don’t you just settle?” asked the visitor. This provoked a Murdoch rant, lots of it hard to follow but leaving the visitor with the sense that Murdoch had found himself alone, up against all those who wanted him to settle, and that he, if no one else, was going to stand up for free speech. And at any rate, it wasn’t Fox’s fault. It was Donald Trump’s fault. He wasn’t going to pay for what Donald Trump did. Sue Donald Trump. The visitor came away wondering how this famously cold and analytic business mind had become such a hot mess.

According to Wolff, while Rupert Murdoch remained static in his denial leading up to the settlement, CEO Lachlan Murdorch — who was named chairman and CEO of Fox News in 2019 — “began telling people that Fox was going to focus on Dominion and get it resolved.”

“But Rupert Murdoch wasn’t having it — he seemed to double down on a desire to punish Trump rather than resolve Dominion. Dominion wasn’t the problem — Trump was,” Wolff writes.

As Wolff reports, Murdoch’s refusal to settle with Dominion bucked the two main rules “of libel law for a media company” — 1) “never to go before a jury,” and 2) “avoid discovery.”

“On Monday, April 17, the day the jury was supposed to be seated and opening statements begun — before a day’s delay was declared — Murdoch told Carlson Dominion was holding to a demand of a billion dollars in damages,” Wolff reports. “For Murdoch, this was a nonstarter: He would not endure the humiliation and defeat of paying a ten-figure settlement in the case. It would be not only a record-shattering sum but also tremendous fodder for his enemies (like the Times) when it came to writing headlines.”

But the company did settle, announcing the following day that it was “pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems.”

“We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues,” Fox News said in a statement.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Rupert Murdoch

'Toilet Paper With Trump's Face': Wolff Book Dishes DeSantis, Carlson, Murdochs

A "juicy tell-all" book filled with "at-times absurd anecdotes" about the Fox News family and its relationship to Republicans like Florida governor and 2024 GOP hopeful Ron DeSantis is set to hit shelves later this month, according to an exclusive report from The Daily Beast.

Per the Beast, author Michael Wolff offers a "behind-the-curtains look into Fox's handling of the Dominion defamation lawsuit over its 2020 election lies, its post-election clashes with former President Donald Trump, its shocking firing of Carlson, and the Murdoch family’s Succession-like turmoil."

According to the report, Wolff "writes that prior to being fired from his top-rated primetime perch, Carlson considered a run for president in order to escape his Fox News contract. The author also details a bizarre incident that allegedly occurred when Carlson shared a meal with DeSantis."

Calling DeSantis "impersonal," Wolff notes the governor pushed Carlson's "dog under the table," writing, "Had he kicked the dog? Susie Carlson's judgment was clear: she did not ever want to be anywhere near anybody like that ever again. Her husband agreed. DeSantis, in Carlson's view, was a 'fascist.' The pot calling the kettle even blacker. Forget Ron DeSantis."

Regarding Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, who longs to find another GOP presidential candidate to support other than Trump or DeSantis, Wolff writes that when the billionaire "was brought reports of [Fox host Sean] Hannity's on- and off-air defense of Fox's post-election coverage, he perhaps seemed to justify his anchor: 'He's retarded, like most Americans.'"

Furthermore, the news outlet reports:

Another recurring subject of salacious gossip in the book is Murdoch's attitude towards homosexuality. In one of the book's many anecdotes, the billionaire mogul's now-ex-wife Jerry Hall berated him over the way he discussed someone's sexuality. 'Rupert, why are you such a homophobe?' Hall allegedly shouted at Murdoch during a meal with her friends on a patio in St. Barts, according to the book. 'You're such a homophobe,' she reportedly added, before telling her pals: 'He's such an old man.' (Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

The Beast also notes:

Wolff paints Rupert's son Lachlan, Fox Corp's current chief executive, as a virtue-signaling elitist who didn’t want his celebrity friends to think of him as a Trump supporter or a right-winger. At one point, Wolff alleges, this included showing off his Resistance-style anti-Trump toiletries.

'In the run-up to the 2016 election, the bathrooms at the Mandeville house featured toilet paper with Trump's face, reported visitors with relief and satisfaction,' Wolff writes. 'He told people that his wife and children cried when Trump was elected.'

The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynastywill be available for purchase September 26.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.