‘Good news for conservatives’: How the world reacted to Murdoch’s decision

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Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he is retiring as chair of Fox Corporation and executive chairman of News Corp has drawn a range of responses across the political world, both praising and condemning the controversial figure.

The Melbourne-born media executive, who built his media holdings from an Australian-company to a global behemoth, said on Thursday (US time) he would transition from his executive roles at the companies in November. His son Lachlan will then become the sole chairman of both companies.

Lachlan Murdoch is taking over the reins from his father.Credit: Invision

Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who is in New York, said she did not wish to “engage in commentary at this stage, and with anybody’s retirement the appropriate thing is to wish them well”.

“Any fair-minded observer might say that some of the News Limited papers might not exactly be cheerleaders of the Labor Party, but that’s exactly what happens in a democracy. I wish him well for his retirement,” she said.

From the US, where Fox News has become embedded in the landscape of right-wing politics, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham lauded Rupert Murdoch’s career while praising Lachlan’s new role as a chairman as “indeed good news for conservatives and independent-minded Americans”.

“Under Rupert Murdoch’s leadership, Fox News has become a force in American politics,” Graham tweeted. “He gave voice to millions of Americans who were routinely left behind by the overwhelmingly liberal mainstream media.”

Graham said that under Rupert, “Fox has proven to be willing to challenge both the political Left and Right in the United States”.

“More often than not, they have been the only network willing to give the other side of the story.

“Rupert Murdoch has much to be proud of. Passing the baton to Lachlan Murdoch ensures the best is yet to come for Fox News and the continued discussion of issues Americans cares about,” wrote Graham, who has aligned himself closely with the Donald Trump-faction of the Republican Party.

Nigel Farage, a key proponent of Britain’s 2016 vote to exit the European Union tweeted that “Brexit would not have happened without Rupert Murdoch,” referencing how he pushed Tony Blair into promising a referendum before the country joined the Euro monetary union in the early 2000s.

“Without Rupert Murdoch we would have joined the Euro and I suspect Brexit would never have happened,” Farage said. “That is his place in British history.”

Murdoch’s announcement also attracted fierce criticism, as figures took stock of the mogul’s impact on American politics.

Angelo Carusone, president of media watchdog group Media Matters for America, was far more scathing, saying: “Rupert Murdoch’s media properties helped reshape the Republican Party into a Trumpist authoritarian death cult. [Murdoch] allowed Fox News to fuel the insurrectionist attack on the US Capitol, letting his stars intentionally and knowingly lie to undermine our democratic elections.”

Murdoch in his career had “created a uniquely destructive force in American democracy and public life, one that ushered in an era of division where racist and post-truth politics thrive”.

“No one should sugarcoat the damage he caused. Making matters worse, his parting act – handing the reins to Lachlan Murdoch – is akin to tossing a match onto the kindling he stacked,” Carusone said.

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