Rupert Murdoch has warned of the dangers of censorship and curtailing of debate, saying that an ‘awful woke orthodoxy’ is stifling dissent and hampering societies’ ability to reach their true potential.
The 89-year-old media mogul made his remarks in a pre-recorded address, broadcast on Saturday as he was awarded a lifetime achievement award from The Australia Day Foundation, a British non-profit.
Murdoch, born in Melbourne, Australia, noted that a ‘lifetime achievement award does have an air of finality, almost of closure.’
He said that his career, which ‘began in a smoke-filled Adelaide newsroom, is still in motion.’
Rupert Murdoch gave an acceptance speech to thank The Australia Day Foundation
With a bottle of Australian wine by his side and a medal around his neck, he continued: ‘I can assure you that there are many goals still to come, and challenges to overcome. I’m far from done.’
Murdoch, who has been weathering the pandemic at home in the United Kingdom with his Texan wife, Jerry Hall, has been notably quiet in recent months, failing to weigh in as Donald Trump – who he previously backed – became increasingly isolated.
Murdoch said in Saturday’s address that one of the greatest challenges currently facing media organizations such as his was ‘a wave of censorship’.
Murdoch is pictured with Donald Trump at Trump’s Scottish golf course in June 2016
Murdoch did not elaborate, but his remarks came after Trump was forced from the majority of social media platforms, and allies such as Missouri Senator Josh Hawley found their book contracts cancelled.
The billionaire businessman, whose empire includes Fox News and The New York Post, was dismissive of what he termed ‘so-called social media’.
‘For those of us in media there’s a real challenge to confront: a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate, to ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential,’ he said.
‘This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility.
‘Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy.’
Murdoch’s editors appeared to pay attention.
On Monday, The New York Post published an op-ed by Hawley on the front page, with the headline: ‘Time to take a stand against the muzzling of America.’
Hawley, who was among the most high-profile Trump supporters trying to overturn the result of the presidential election even after the Capitol riot on January 6, echoed Murdoch in denouncing ‘woke orthodoxy.’
Murdoch’s commentary comes at a testing time for U.S. media.
Trump was furious at Fox News for calling Arizona, on the night of the election, before any other network, and even demanded his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, call Murdoch to demand a retraction. Murdoch refused.
In response Trump urged his supporters to boycott Fox and watch rivals Newsmax and OAN instead.
Fox is attempting to find and consolidate its place in the media landscape.
Earlier this month a series of digital journalists were fired, including Chris Stirewalt, a political editor who defended the Arizona call.
Fox said the redundancies were part of a restructuring.