Rupert Murdoch, the long-time media mogul, has announced his retirement as the chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corp. This decision marks the end of his seven-decade reign as the mastermind of the media landscape. Although his retirement won’t officially begin until November, the process of unbundling his media empire has already commenced.
Murdoch’s career in media began when he was just 21 years old. After his father’s death, he took charge of his father’s relatively small Australian newspaper company. Under his leadership, Murdoch transformed the company by adopting a more tabloid-style coverage, which increased circulation. In the following decades, he expanded his portfolio by acquiring various media outlets, including The Sun in the UK, The Village Voice, and New York magazine in the US during the 1960s and ’70s.
By the 1980s, Murdoch set his sights on the film and TV industry. He acquired regional news stations and the renowned movie studio 20th Century Fox. In 1986, he launched the Fox broadcast network, followed by the establishment of Fox News a decade later. In the early 2000s, Murdoch ventured into new media and invested a staggering $580 million in the then-popular social network, Myspace.
However, Murdoch’s media empire faced numerous challenges and controversies. It’s often argued that his ownership of News Corp contributed to the downfall of Myspace, allowing platforms like Facebook and Twitter to dominate the public square. The influence of Murdoch and his companies, however, continued to spread. Notably, Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson played a significant role in promoting misinformation, introducing dangerous narratives into the mainstream. Despite never directly controlling Facebook or Twitter, the personalities associated with Murdoch’s companies shaped the conversations on these platforms.
According to Dan Cassino, a professor of government and politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Murdoch utilized his media empire as a means to push certain ideas. This was particularly evident in the US, where Fox News aligned itself with the Trump administration, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship. However, it also resulted in legal disputes, such as Fox News agreeing to pay $787 million to settle a lawsuit related to promoting lies about the 2020 presidential election. Furthermore, texts from Tucker Carlson were revealed, expressing his dislike for Trump during the lead-up to the January 6th insurrection. Consequently, Carlson was dismissed by Fox News in April.
In the UK, Murdoch’s newspapers supported Brexit and became embroiled in a notorious phone hacking scandal. In Australia, where Murdoch’s family still holds significant influence, his newspapers demonstrated skepticism towards climate change issues. Angelo Carusone, the CEO of Media Matters for America, a watchdog group, issued a statement affirming that the world is worse off because of Rupert Murdoch, emphasizing the need to acknowledge the damage he caused.
As Murdoch steps down, the media landscape faces an uncertain future. His retirement marks the end of an era characterized by significant media consolidation and the wielding of considerable influence. The unbundling of his media empire may lead to a more diverse and decentralized media environment. However, it remains to be seen how the industry will evolve in the absence of Murdoch’s dominant presence.
With News Corp and Fox Corporation undergoing significant changes, the direction and influence of these media entities will undoubtedly shift. It is essential for media consumers to remain discerning and critical of the narratives presented by these outlets. The media industry plays a crucial role in shaping public opinion and discourse, and the transition away from Murdoch’s influence presents an opportunity for increased transparency and accountability.
In conclusion, Rupert Murdoch’s announcement of his retirement as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corp signifies the end of an era in the media industry. Murdoch’s career spanned seven decades, during which he built a vast media empire. However, his influence was not without controversy, as his companies faced allegations of disseminating misinformation and engaging in unethical practices. As Murdoch’s retirement looms, the future of his media empire and the broader media landscape remains uncertain. However, this transition opens the door for potential changes and a reevaluation of the media industry’s role in society.