James Murdoch abruptly quit the board of News Corp, the holding company for his family’s newspapers Friday night, citing “disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”
His two-sentence resignation letter, which News Corp disclosed in an SEC filing, wasn’t more specific. New York-based News Corp. released a statement from his father Rupert and his elder brother Lachlan. They are, respectively, the company’s Executive Chairman and co-Chairman and said:” We’re grateful to James for his many years of service to the company. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.” The corporate parent of the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and the Times of London didn’t elaborate further.
James Murdoch, who was at one time considered by many observers to be media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s heir, has distanced himself from his family’s conservative political views for years.
As the New York Times and other media outlets have noted, Murdoch and his wife, Kathryn, donated $1 million to the campaign of presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden in recent months. Murdoch also has criticized his family’s media properties for questioning the established science of climate change. Rupert Murdoch describes himself as a “skeptic” about global warming, while James has championed sustainability for years.
James Murdoch was on the News Corp board since 2013. He also held senior positions in the Murdoch media empire for decades in the U.S. and the U.K. in the company’s publishing and pay-television businesses. In 2012 Murdoch resigned as head of the family UK newspaper business after a phone-hacking scandal resulted in the closure of the News of the World tabloid.
He was the CEO of the 21st Century Fox studio, which was sold last year to Walt Disney along with the company’s other entertainment assets for more than $70 billion. He reportedly netted $2 billion from the deal and still benefits from the Murdoch family businesses as a beneficiary of the trusts that control them.
‘There were discussions about the possibility of Mr. Murdoch joining Disney, but those talks came to nothing,” according to the New York Times.
Through his Lupa Systems holding company, James Murdoch has acquired interests in the Vice news and entertainment site, the parent company of New York’s Tribeca Film Festival and comic publisher Artists, Writers, and Artisans.
Media Matters for America head Angelo Carusone, a frequent and vocal critic of Fox News and the Murdoch family, praised James Murdoch’s move in a blog post:
“While his action of resigning alone does not absolve him of the blood on his hands caused by decades of Murdoch deceit, it’s an important step to no longer being part of the problem.”
More than a decade ago, the Murdoch brothers were playing opposite roles. Lachlan Murdoch quit the family business — then called News Corp — in 2005 after a dispute with Rupert Murdoch. They were able to resolve their differences in recent years.
Lachlan Murdoch is the chairman and chief executive of Fox Corp, which includes Fox News and Fox Business cable channels and Fox branded entertainment and sports television networks.