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James Murdoch criticizes 'media property owners' who have 'unleashed insidious' forces with election denialism claims

Posted January 15, 2021 5:29 p.m. EST

— James Murdoch, the youngest son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, assailed "media property owners" and outlets that have promoted disinformation and conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 election.

Murdoch did not explicitly mention Fox News, which is controlled by his father and his brother Lachlan Murdoch. But it was clear that, even if he had other outlets in mind as well, his focus was on the right-wing cable network when he made those comments in an interview with the Financial Times published Friday. Since the election was called for Joe Biden, some Fox News personalities have amplified President Trump's false election fraud claims and sowed distrust in the voting system.

"The damage is profound," Murdoch said, referring to the election disinformation that has circulated in the US. "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," Murdoch added.

Murdoch added that he had not "seen any evidence of that yet."

Following the interview, he released a joint statement to the Financial Times with his wife, Kathryn Murdoch.

"Spreading disinformation — whether about the election, public health or climate change — has real world consequences," the two said. "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."

A spokesperson for Murdoch did not respond to a request for comment.

The younger Murdoch made a dramatic break from his family in August 2020, resigning from the board of directors of News Corp, his family's publishing empire. Murdoch said at the time he was exiting the company over "disagreements over certain editorial content published" by its news outlets and "certain other strategic decisions."

It wouldn't be the first time James Murdoch spoke out publicly about the coverage provided by the news outlets in his father's media empire. A spokesperson for James and his wife Kathryn told the Daily Beast that the couple was frustrated "with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage" on climate change as wildfires tore through Australia last year. In an interview with The New Yorker in 2019, he said "There are views I really disagree with on Fox."

Murdoch has shown other signs of being at odds with Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch's conservative political views. He previously donated to Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and fumed about climate change denialism.

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