Rupert Murdoch, 92, has been one of the most influential and controversial figures in media. He has inflamed and influenced public opinion via a global empire that included garish tabloids, sophisticated broadsheets such as the Wall Street Journal and television properties in the US and the UK.
His stepping aside leaves his son in charge of a global media empire Murdoch created from a local newspaper in Australia.
Murdoch’s Fox Broadcasting Co. wrested market share from NBC, CBS and ABC and altered the economics of professional sports by offering record sums for broadcast rights to football games and other events. Fox News Channel, a juggernaut in cable TV, became a stage for Republican US politicians including Donald Trump and an incessant critic of Democrats, including presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Fox News and Murdoch also paid a heavy price for the network’s fulsome embrace of Trump’s unfounded claims that an elaborate conspiracy stole the 2020 election from him.
In one of the darkest chapters of Murdoch’s reign, Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems Inc. The voting machine company had alleged that the network defamed it by airing bogus claims that it rigged the vote against Trump. Evidence uncovered in the case showed that the media titan and other top Fox executives, as well as superstar hosts like Tucker Carlson, privately derided the conspiracy theory as loony even as they promoted it.