In his statement to employees on Thursday Mr. Murdoch wrote, “The battle for the freedom of speech and, ultimately, the freedom of thought, has never been more intense.” While Lachlan was “absolutely committed to the cause” Mr. Murdoch wrote, he planed to remain “involved every day in the contest of ideas.”
He had a message, too, for his longtime nemeses in the so-called “MSM,” or mainstream media, writing that “most of the media” was “in cahoots’’ with “elites” who have “open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class.”
It was not all that different from the language he used when he first arrived in the United States in the early 1970s, criticizing the “intellectual showmanship” of the big name journalists who, in his view, had lost touch in all the self-celebration of that heady, post-Watergate era. Offering an alternative, he pronounced, “We’re here to give the public what they want.”
All followed from that: His first foray into the U.S. newspaper market, which reinvigorated the slashing, populist style of old. His creation of Fox Broadcasting, which broke the three-network oligopolistic hold on prime-time television and introduced the edgy sort of programming that is now the staple of streaming. The birth of Fox News, which became No. 1 in cable news by giving a very specific public what it wanted — those conservative-leaning Americans who long felt ignored by a traditional journalism world they viewed as biased against them.
Yet it also helped lead to an illegal hacking operation in Britain, to give British tabloid readers what they wanted — juicy inside details about the famous and the newsworthy — as well as the 2020 election coverage that prompted the Dominion suit, to satisfy Trump fans who made up so much of the Fox audience.
It will for now fall to Lachlan to keep that public satisfied amid the new demands and challenges of the streaming era, and for a more fragmented media sphere — leaving a new chapter to be written by a Murdoch not named Rupert.