(The Hill) — Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is retiring in November as the chairman of Fox and News Corp., a notable shift for a company that has significantly shaped political discourse across the country — particularly on the right — for decades.
Murdoch, 92, will transition into a new role as chairman emeritus for both companies, and his son, Lachlan Murdoch, will become sole chairman of News Corp and continue as CEO and executive chairman of Fox Corporation.
Murdoch insisted he was stepping down at a point where the companies are in good health after a turbulent year that saw Fox News, the crown jewel of his conservative media empire, agree to pay $787 million to Dominion Voting Systems to settle claims of defamation out of court in connection with false statements the network aired about the company’s software being promoted by former President Donald Trump and his allies.
“Our companies are in robust health, as am I,” Murdoch wrote in a note Thursday to employees announcing the news. “Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years — I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them. But the battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.”
He also wrote that Lachlan Murdoch is “absolutely committed to the cause.”
As part of the Dominion litigation, a trove of communications from top Fox executives, including Murdoch, showed them throwing cold water on Trump’s assertions about voter fraud and blasting the former president.
Over a decades-long career in the media and entertainment business, Murdoch has solidified himself as the American right’s top kingmaker.
He launched Fox News in the late 1990s as a competitor to mainstream media outlets and has grown the network into the top-watched cable news channel.
“Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose,” Murdoch wrote in his note to staff. “Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”
The media mogul said he plans to remain “involved every day in the contest of ideas.”
“I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest, and reaching out to you with thoughts, ideas, and advice,” he said.