James Murdoch, the youngest son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, claimed on Friday that U.S. news outlets will be faced with a ‘reckoning’ after last week’s deadly pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the younger Murdoch blamed ‘media property owners’ for unleashing ‘insidious and uncontrollable forces’ with their support of disinformation about the 2020 election.
He claimed that media groups had fueled the riot by leading ‘a substantial portion’ of the public to believe ‘a falsehood’ about the election.
He did not explicitly mention Fox News, which is controlled by his father and his brother Lachlan Murdoch.
James quit his father’s media company News Corp. over the summer, saying that he was ‘increasingly uncomfortable’ with News Corp and Fox ‘legitimizing disinformation’.
James Murdoch, the youngest son of Rupert Murdoch, claimed on Friday that U.S. news outlets will be faced with a ‘reckoning’ after last week’s deadly pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol
James Murdoch, pictured left with his father Rupert, was formerly the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation but he quit his father’s company over the summer
‘The damage is profound,’ James said in Friday’s interview.
‘The sacking of the Capitol is proof positive that what we thought was dangerous is indeed very, very much so. Those outlets that propagate lies to their audience have unleashed insidious and uncontrollable forces that will be with us for years.’
‘I hope that those people who didn’t think it was that dangerous now understand, and that they stop,’ he continued, adding that he had not ‘seen any evidence of that yet’.
James and his wife, Kathryn Hufschmid, issued a further statement following the Times interview in which they accused ‘media property owners’ of chosing to spread ‘lies’.
‘Spreading disinformation — whether about the election, public health or climate change — has real world consequences,’ the statement read.
‘Many media property owners have as much responsibility for this as the elected officials who know the truth but choose instead to propagate lies.
‘We hope the awful scenes we have all been seeing will finally convince those enablers to repudiate the toxic politics they have promoted once and forever.’
Rupert Murdoch with his sons Lachlan Murdoch (left) and James Murdoch (right) in 2016
James formerly served as the chief executive of 21st Century Fox from 2015 to 2019.
He split from the company in a dramatic exit in August 2020 when he left the News Corps. board completely, citing in a letter ‘disagreements over certain editorial content’.
A spokesperson for him and his wife also told the Daily Beast in January 2020, before his split from the empire, that the couple ‘with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage’ on climate change.
The comments were made as wildfires ripped through Murdoch’s native Australia.
Rupert Murdoch is heading back to the US thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine
He also told the New Yorker in 2019: ‘There are views I really disagree with on Fox.’
Despite his family’s conservative-leaning media outlets, James and his wife have recently made significant donations to Democrats, including former presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and President-elect Joe Biden.
He, along with Rupert Murdoch’s five other children, received up to $2billion oin 2019 from the break-up of the family’s media empire and the sale of its entertainment businesses to Walt Disney.
It comes as Fox executives are said to be fearful a shake-up is on the cards as Rupert Murdoch heads back to the US thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Murdoch is a US citizen and was born in Australia but has been isolated with his fourth wife Jerry Hall at his home in England since the summer.
While James’ comments did not explicitly call out Fox News, which his father helped found in 1996, others have been more forthright in their criticism after several hosts continued to back Trump with his unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.
News Corp. is currently run by CEO Robert Thomson and owns U.S outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, and The New York Post.