Last Thursday, News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch announced that he would be stepping down, ending a seven-decade long career leading one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. I will give him credit for this one thing: He and his insane family are responsible for the show “Succession,” which I love. So, if anything, thanks for that, Murdoch.
Murdoch’s reach is wide. News Corps, the parent company of the Fox Corporation and its news arm, has properties in Britain and Australia in addition to its headquarters in the United States. In total, Murdoch controlled over 175 different news stations across three continents.
Murdoch built a multi-billion dollar empire on lies. His collusion with the George W. Bush administration to push for support of the Iraq War led to eight years of death, suffering and devastation to Iraq and its people.
In the build up to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, Murdoch was crucial to rallying popular support
The Guardian surveyed these stations leading up to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. All of them supported an invasion, which makes sense when Murdoch said of the invasion that “We can’t back down now. I think Bush is acting very morally, very correctly and I think he is going to go on with it.”
Murdoch also managed to speak with then-Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, three times leading up to the invasion. Murdoch’s absolute support for Bush’s foreign policy has had far-reaching consequences.
Almost a decade after the war, a poll found that 52% of Republicans who watch Fox News believed that there were weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. This contradicts the well-documented failure on behalf of American intelligence to find any WMD whatsoever.
But Murdoch did not stop with one disastrous republican President; it was so nice he just had to do it twice. Starting in 2011, Fox News gave then-private citizen Donald Trump a recurring segment called “Mondays with Trump,” allowing him to endear himself to the conservative audience.
Upon winning the presidency, Trump granted Murdoch and Fox News an incredible amount of access to his White House, enabling Murdoch to call him multiple times a week. This kind of access allowed for Murdoch to weigh in on substantial policy matters.
When former President Trump was assigning a new chair for the Federal Communications Commission, Murdoch was able to directly advise him on this assignment, an unparalleled level of influence on the most powerful position in the world. Murdoch rewarded Trump for this level of access with persistently positive coverage of him.
On a “feeling thermometer” regarding President Trump from zero to 100, with zero being the lowest and 100 being the highest, the average Fox News viewer held an overall score of 71. In order to stay within the President’s good graces and maintain his audience there, was no lie Murdoch was not willing to tell.
Murdoch’s unwavering support for presidential candidate to President to four-time indicted criminal Trump led to him allow his network to promote lies about American elections, which helped foment the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021.
After losing to current President Joe Biden in 2020, rather than concede and move on, Trump decided to claim that he lost due to voter fraud and a rigged election. While it is true that there were select instances of voter fraud, there was absolutely no proof of the level of fraud needed to tip the election in favor of Biden.
In the six battleground states surveyed — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — there were only 475 instances of voter fraud found. The total amount of disputed ballots found ended up adding to a mere 0.15% of Biden’s victories across these states.
Don’t just take my word for it either: Chris Krebs, the Trump-appointed Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, declared that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.”
Despite all of this, Murdoch still platformed election denial and conspiracy theories on Fox News. Fox pushed baseless claims against Dominion Voting Systems in the aftermath of the 2020 election, which resulted in the company having to pay nearly $800 million to settle with Dominion outside of court.
Murdoch knew Trump’s claims were nonsense, but he platformed them nonetheless out of fear of losing audience to far-right competitors like Newsmax. There is a reason that Logan Roy is such an intimidating presence within “Succession;” he is based on a real life supervillain. The lies Murdoch platformed made him billions of dollars, and our country is worse off for having heard them.