James Murdoch has long expressed more progressive views than his father Rupert or older brother Lachlan, especially on the issue of climate change. He and his wife Kathryn each donated more than US$615,000 to Joe Biden’s campaign for the presidency last year.
Following the Financial Times interview, Mr Murdoch and his wife released a statement taking aim at disinformation and those who spread it deliberately.
“Spreading disinformation – whether about the election, public health or climate change – has real world consequences,” they wrote in the statement also reported by the FT.
“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.”
Mr Murdoch also told the newspaper he believed there would be “a reckoning” for the news media industry, which was “being co-opted by forces that only want to stay in power”.
Once thought of as Rupert’s most likely successor, the junior Murdoch resigned from the board of News Corporation in August “due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions”.
While Fox was Trump’s preferred outlet for interviews and for reinforcing in his now-banned Twitter stream, the cable channel infuriated the President on election night when Fox News’s decision desk – an independent team of data analysts – declared Joe Biden the projected winner of Arizona ahead of many other networks.
The third-most-watched network on weekdays in 2020, Fox’s ratings fell after Election Day and its future as the voice of conservative America is threatened by a string of small far-right networks seeking to draw its Pro-Trump audience now that the President has damned Fox for betraying him.
In the aftermath of the result, many of its commentators refused to indulge Trump’s false claims that the election had been rigged and that his victory through the courts was still possible.
Tucker Carlton has called out conservative lawyer Sidney Powell for failing to substantiate her claims, while prime-time host Laura Ingraham – who appeared at Trump rallies during the campaign – acknowledged Biden’s victory.
While Fox hosts condemned the violence at the Capitol on January 6, none have directly blamed Trump for the invasion.
Murdoch’s flagship American tabloid the New York Post faced a rare internal backlash in October when it published a front-page story about Hunter Biden’s emails, based on information on a hard drive provided by Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, amd former advisor Steve Bannon. The New York Times reported that journalists who worked on the story refused to have their bylines on it.
At the end of 2020, the Post ran a front page editorial with the block capital headline STOP THE INSANITY, which urged Trump to “give it up, Mr. President — for your sake and the nation’s.”
After the riots, News Corp’s influential business publication The Wall Street Journal called for Trump to quit.
“If Mr Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best path would be to take personal responsibility and resign,” the paper’s editorial board said.
Michael Koziol is deputy editor of The Sun-Herald, based in Sydney.