James Murdoch launches 'whisper campaign' against brother Lachlan

James Murdoch has launched a ‘whisper campaign against brother Lachlan to undermine his position as Fox News CEO’

  • James Murdoch, 48, has reportedly been trying to undermine his brother Lachlan, 49, CEO at Fox News
  • James ‘is running a whisper campaign that Lachlan is not good at his job and that he doesn’t deserve it,’ a source told Business Insider
  • The infighting between the two siblings is part of a long-running struggle for control of the family’s media empire once Rupert, 90, dies
  • Lachlan relocated to Australia last month where he continues to run Fox News
  • In an interview, he did not address the rumors of James’s interference, instead talking up Fox’s ‘diversity’ 
  • The power struggle has drawn comparisons with Succession, a TV drama where two  brothers vie for their father’s affections and control of his media company

James Murdoch has started a ‘whispering campaign’ about his brother and rival Lachlan’s ability to lead Fox News.

James, 48, the youngest son of billionaire media mogul Rupert, has previously spoken out about unnamed ‘media property owners’ for unleashing ‘insidious and uncontrollable forces’ with their support of disinformation about the 2020 election.

Now he appears to be stepping up his attacks on his elder brother Lachlan, 49, according to Business Insider.

James is ‘running a whisper campaign that Lachlan is not good at his job and that he doesn’t deserve it,’ they reported.

In an interview with Business Insider from Sydney, where he relocated in March, Lachlan did not address rumors of his brother’s meddling.

Instead he talked up Fox News’ ‘diversity of opinion’ and said described the right-wing station as a bulwark against social media echo chambers.

‘If Facebook or Twitter and others ultimately become a bias filter for the facts that we take as truth in the world,’ Lachlan told Business Insider. 

‘I think that’s really dangerous and a sort of scary world to live in.’ 

Rupert Murdoch with his sons Lachlan Murdoch (left) and James Murdoch (right) at his marriage to Jerry Hall in London in 2016. Since Lachlan took over as Fox News CEO in 2019, James has spoken disapprovingly of its rightwing stance

James had previously been viewed as heir apparent to Rupert after Lachlan resigned from his executive positions at News Corp. in July 2005. His sister Elisabeth was also regarded as having been in the running. Pictured, James, Elisabeth, Rupert, and Lachlan Murdoch in 2007

Fox News headquarters in New York. Lachlan has been running the company from Sydney, Australia, since relocating their with his wife Sarah and their three children last month

Lachlan Murdoch raised eyebrows when he relocated from Los Angeles to Sydney with his supermodel wife Sarah, and their three children.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported they had moved to escape the political climate in the US.

Since then, Lachlan has been waking in the middle of the night to keep his working hours in synch with Eastern Standard Time, as the Fox News corporate headquarters and most of its staff are based in New York. 

Lachlan said he was given a free reign when he started as CEO in 2019.

He had previously left his position as COO of News Corp in 2005 after falling out with Fox founder Roger Ailes.

He returned to the company in 2014, but found James Murdoch, long thought to be the heir apparent, in his way as CEO of News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch then decided to sell the 21st Century Fox and its assets to Disney for $71.3 billion.

James quit News Corp. last summer, saying that he was ‘increasingly uncomfortable’ with Fox ‘legitimizing disinformation’. 

Lachlan became the golden child once more on his return and was promoted over his younger brother by their father.

In Succession, the hit HBO drama, sons Kendall, far right, (Jeremy Strong), and Roman, second from right (Kieran Culkin), duke it out with their sister Shiv, far left, (Sarah Snook), for control of the family media empire, headed by a cantankerous patriarch Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox

In 2020, James, and his wife Kathryn (pictured together above) spoke out against the family business for promoting climate change ‘denials’ during the Australian bushfire crisis

Rupert and Elisabeth Murdoch who is also in the running to take over as heir

James Murdoch, pictured left with his father Rupert, was formerly the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation but he quit his father’s company in summer 2020

Since then, a power struggle between the siblings has played out in plain sight.

The rivalry has drawn comparisons with the hit HBO drama Succession, where jealous siblings vie for their father’s affections and control of his media company.

In January 2021, James went on the offensive in a thinly veiled attack on Fox News’ role in fermenting the January 6 riots at the US Capital.

In an interview with the Financial Times, James claimed that media groups fueled the riot by leading ‘a substantial portion’ of the public to believe ‘a falsehood’ about the election.

‘The damage is profound,’ James said in Friday’s interview as he criticized media groups coverage of election fraud.

‘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.’

Lachlan, on the other hand, has been a staunch defender of Fox News and its on-air talent, especially Tucker Carlson, who has come under criticism for his commentary on issues of race and COVID-19 vaccines.

He called Fox the ‘loyal opposition’ after Joe Biden was elected to the presidency, and is fiercely proud of the station’s right wing viewpoint.

‘Trump was attacking us nonstop, and we didn’t bend to that,’ Lachlan told Business Insider. 

‘Obviously our opinion is center-right. We held our own. We were happy with where we were. 

‘In a strange way, if you’ve got the left and the right criticizing you, you’re doing something right. You really are in the middle.’ 

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, 49, the eldest of the Murdoch sons, 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, 48, 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, 63, 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, run 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 20 and 18, are Rupert’s daughters from his third marriage to Wendi Deng.

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