Rupert Murdoch, the 92-year-old Australian media magnate whose creation of Fox News made him a force in American politics, is stepping down as leader of both Fox’s parent company and his News Corp. media holdings.
Fox said Thursday that Mr. Murdoch would become chairman emeritus of both companies, effective at board meetings in November. His son, Lachlan, will become News Corp. chairman and continue as chief executive officer of Fox Corp.
Lachlan Murdoch said that “we are grateful that he will serve as chairman emeritus and know he will continue to provide valued counsel to both companies.”
Besides Fox News, Mr. Murdoch started the Fox broadcast network, the first to successfully challenge the Big Three of ABC, CBS and NBC, with shows like “The Simpsons.” He is owner of The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
Fox News Channel has profoundly influenced television and the nation’s politics since its start in 1996, making Mr. Murdoch a hero to some and pariah to others. The 24-hour network converted the power and energy of political talk radio to television. Within six years, it outrated CNN and MSNBC.
But it has been a rough year for Fox, which was forced to pay $787 million to settle a defamation lawsuit related to its coverage of false claims following the 2020 presidential election. Shortly after, Fox fired its most popular personality, Tucker Carlson.
Mr. Murdoch vowed in a letter to employees that he would remain engaged at Fox.
“In my new role, I can guarantee you that I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas, Murdoch wrote. “Our companies are communities, and I will be an active member of our community. I will be watching our broadcasts with a critical eye, reading our newspapers and websites and books with much interest.”
There was no immediate word on why Mr. Murdoch’s announcement came now. Ironically, it is the week author and Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff is publishing a book, “The End of Fox News,” speculating on what will happen to the network when the patriarch is gone.
Mr. Murdoch and his family, particularly children James, Lachlan, Elisabeth and Prudence, were said to be the model of the HBO show “Succession.”
He built his empire from a single newspaper in Adelaide, Australia, inherited from his father and became a multi-billionaire. Forbes estimated the Murdoch family’s net worth at roughly $19 billion in 2020.
While Mr. Murdoch never ran for political office, politicians in the United States and Britain anxiously sought his approval.