Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch calls Fox News Biden’s loyal opposition

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Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch called the Fox News division of his company President Biden’s loyal opposition in a Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom investors conference Thursday, NBC News reported.

“The main beneficiary of the Trump administration, from a ratings point of view, was MSNBC,” Murdoch said. “And that’s because they were the loyal opposition. That’s what our job is now with the Biden administration, and you’ll see our ratings really improve from here.”

Murdoch made the remarks after being asked about a recent dip Fox News’s ratings. 

“Our audience was disappointed with the election results,” Murdoch said, adding that the network’s ratings were already rising. 

Biden’s presidency will help Fox News, Murdoch explained, in the same way Trump’s presidency — and notoriety — helped other cable networks.

And in January, it did at first look as if the ratings battle between Fox and CNN had turned, with CNN beating Fox, traditionally the ratings leader, according to TVNewser’s parsing of the Nielsen data. But in February, the status quo reasserted itself with Fox beating both CNN and MSNBC for primetime total viewers.

The comments from Murdoch come after the electronic voting firm Smartmatic brought a $2.7 billion defamation case against Fox News, alleging that hosts echoed conspiracy theories about the company’s role in the 2020 elections. 

At that same conference Thursday, Murdoch’s counterpart at WarnerMedia, CEO Jason Kilar, stated that CNN’s ratings were bolstered by the COVID-19 pandemic coverage.

When asked by a Morgan Stanley analyst what effect a post-Trump news cycle might have on the network’s success, Kilar stated: I’d say that it turns out that pandemic is a pretty big part of the news cycle, and that’s not going away anytime soon.” 

And so there’s no doubt that from a political drama perspective, that [Trump’s election loss] is different. I’d say in many ways, that’s good for our society,” he said. 

“But if you take a look at the ratings and the performance, it’s going well,” he added. “And I think it’s going well because, A, the team at CNN is doing a fantastic job. And B, as it turns out that the pandemic and the way that we can help inform and contextualize the pandemic, it turns out it’s really good for ratings.”

Kilar later apologized for the tone of the statement in a Twitter exchange with a Wall Street Journal reporter. 

“I agree Joe,” he tweeted to the Journal reporter who questioned the statement. “I would like nothing more than for this pandemic to be well behind us. I mean that with every fiber in my body. I wish I could go back and be more thoughtful about my communication.” 

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