Rupert Murdoch's youngest son resigns, signaling rift in multibillion-dollar family empire

The younger son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch does not share his father's conservative politics.
Image: James Murdoch speaks during a keynote interview at the EuroSummit '13 event in Barcelona
James Murdoch speaks during a keynote interview at the EuroSummit '13 event in Barcelona, Spain, on Sept. 20, 2013.Antonio Heredia / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Claire Atkinson

James Murdoch, the youngest son of Rupert Murdoch, has resigned from the board of the family’s newspaper assets, News Corporation, according to a regulatory filing. His resignation is effective immediately.

"My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions," Murdoch wrote in a brief letter announcing his decision.

Headquartered in Manhattan, News Corp. is a $7.5 billion conglomerate whose U.S.-based assets include The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, The New York Post and book publisher HarperCollins. It is one of two media empires controlled by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian businessman and confidant of President Donald Trump. James's brother, Lachlan, is co-chairman of the board and also runs Fox Corp., which includes Fox News and the Fox broadcast network.

James Murdoch, who owns a stake in media outlet Vice, does not share his father's conservative politics. Last year, he shared words of support for presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in an interview with The New Yorker. He described the 2020 election as a “really crucial moment” for liberal democratic values.

In recent days, staff at the Journal had complained about a perceived lack of fact checking of the outlet’s opinion contributors. The Editorial Board of the newspaper responded with a Note to Readers stating it would not wilt “under cancel-culture pressure.” The letter added, “As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse.”

James Murdoch and his activist wife, Kathryn, who used to work for the Clinton Climate Initiative, publicly criticized the family's media coverage of Australia's devastating wildfires and its assessment of the impact of climate change.

A spokesperson for the couple told The Daily Beast, “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia, given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

In a statement released later on Friday, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch 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.”