Months after settling a landmark defamation lawsuit against Dominion Voting Systems for $787 million in the wake of lies told about its election technology, the controversial Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as chairman of both Fox Corp. and News Corp., effective in November.
Perhaps more than any person living or dead, Murdoch reshaped the political landscape in America, his Fox News becoming a mouthpiece for the right and sympathizer of the far right. As a New York Times piece this morning put it:
Fox promised news but its cash crop was feelings. Making viewers feel — feel angry, feel betrayed, feel threatened — was vital to keeping them tuned in for hours. … (As Barack Obama emerged, it fed suspicions that he was alien, other, a malign un-American force. Its morning show, “Fox and Friends,” gave airtime to a bogus story that he had attended a madrasa.)
Fox’s record for peddling half-truths and zero-truths in the name of riling up its right-wing base came abruptly to an end in April, when it settled the Domninin suit for a staggering figure equivalent to roughly one-quarter of what Fox made in the previous year — and fired its most incendiary (and highest rated) on-air host, Tucker Carlson.
Murdoch’s eldest son Lachlan Murdoch, who succeeds him as sole chairman of News Corp., said:
“On behalf of the FOX and News Corp boards of directors, leadership teams, and all the shareholders who have benefited from his hard work, I congratulate my father on his remarkable 70-year career.”
Murdoch, 92, who owns several properties, including The Wall Street Journal, wrote a memo to employees where he bragged about being “in robust health.” Yet as he is 92, media observers have questioned whether health reasons may have played a role in his sudden departure.
Given his role in shaping the acrimonious culture of contempt that pits right versus left, Murdoch’s closing words via a letter to his charges, run in the Journal, had more than a whiff of grandiosity and hypocrisy:
I look forward to seeing you wherever you work and whatever your responsibility. And I urge you to make the most of this great opportunity to improve the world we live in.