James Murdoch predicts ‘a reckoning’ for media after Capitol riot
James Murdoch, youngest son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, on Friday issued a public rebuke of U.S. news outlets for advancing what he called “insidious and uncontrollable forces,” adding that he hoped the deadly pro-Trump riot at the Capitol will lead to a “reckoning” for media.
The younger Murdoch, who over the summer resigned from his position on the board of his father’s media company News Corp., said in an interview with the Financial Times that last week’s mob attack, in which five people died amid the chaos, was fueled by media groups promoting misinformation that left “a substantial portion” of the public believing “a falsehood.”
“The damage is profound,” Murdoch said. “The sacking of the Capitol is proof positive that what we thought was dangerous is indeed very, very much so. Those outlets that propagate lies to their audience have unleashed insidious and uncontrollable forces that will be with us for years.”
Murdoch, who served as the chief executive of 21st Century Fox from 2015 to 2019, added that he hopes “those people who didn’t think it was that dangerous now understand, and that they stop,” but added that he had not “seen any evidence of that yet.”
The younger Murdoch did not specifically mention Fox News, which his father helped found in 1996. While several Fox News hosts have advanced President Trump’s claims in recent years and backed his policies, several journalists at the network have increasingly become critical of the president.
In a joint statement with his wife, Kathryn Hufschmid, following the Times interview, Murdoch said, “Spreading disinformation — whether about the election, public health or climate change — has real world consequences.”
The statement continued, “Many media property owners have as much responsibility for this as the elected officials who know the truth but choose instead to propagate lies. We hope the awful scenes we have all been seeing will finally convince those enablers to repudiate the toxic politics they have promoted once and forever.”
James Murdoch, along with Rupert Murdoch’s five other children, each received up to $2 billion from the break-up of the family’s media empire and sale of its entertainment businesses to Walt Disney in 2019.
James Murdoch in August officially left the News Corp. board completely, citing “disagreements over certain editorial content,” he wrote in a letter at the time.
News Corp. is run by CEO Robert Thomson and owns media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, The New York Post and others in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Despite the conservative politics associated with the family’s media empire, James Murdoch and his wife have more recently donated substantially to Democratic political campaigns, including those of former presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and President-elect Joe Biden.