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As Rupert Murdoch steps aside observers see Lachlan as a ‘considerably more brutal’ heir

Rupert Murdoch has passed the reigns of News Corp to his son Lachlan. Photo: Getty

Rupert Murdoch has passed the reigns of News Corp to his son Lachlan. Photo: Getty Photo: Getty

Rupert Murdoch stepping down as the head of his news-media empire may delight some, but his replacement, eldest son Lachlan, has been described as “considerably more brutal” than his father.

“The time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies,” Rupert Murdoch said in a memo announcing he was stepping away from his role as chairman of News Corp on Friday.

Lachlan has worked within his father’s businesses for decades, albeit with a few expeditions into other ventures, and is vastly familiar with the news business his father inherited from his grandfather in 1952.

Here’s everything you need to know about Lachlan as he takes on the influential role.

The new boss

Lachlan Murdoch, 52, is one of the three children his father had with Scottish journalist Anna Maria Depeyster, his second of four wives.

Originally seen as the natural air to the Fox News and News Corp empire, he left the company in 2005 after a feud with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.

After nine years outside his father’s business, where he invested in media and marketing companies to middling success, the younger Murdoch returned as the prodigal son at a sensitive time, dominated by the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

In 2015, he was named co-chairman of 21st Century Fox with his brother, James, before the film studio was sold to Disney in 2019.

James quit, frustrated with News Corp’s climate change coverage, editorial content and strategic decisions, leaving Lachlan as the sole heir to his father’s treasured media holdings after being named Chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation.

Lachlan, Rupert and James Murdoch. Photo: Getty

When Australian news site Crikey! published a series of articles accusing the Murdochs of being “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 riots, Lachlan launched legal action that ultimately resulted in him paying $1.3 million in legal costs to the media organisation.

A change in tack or more of the same?

Anybody expecting a less divisive and combative figure now that Rupert has stepped away from the business is likely to be left disappointed, with Lachlan considered vastly more conservative than his power and influence-hungry father.

Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of Media Matters for America, issued a statement regarding the announcement of Lachlan Murdoch’s ascension to the throne.

“Lachlan certainly is a less competent leader than his father, but his worldview is considerably more brutal,” he said.

“His leadership will likely just intensify the misconduct, misinformation, and malevolence that have come to define Murdoch media.”

In March 2022 at an event in Sydney, Lachlan offered a glimpse into the worldview that will now drive some of the most influential media outlets in the world.

“How can we expect people to defend the values, interests and sovereignty of this nation if we teach our children only our faults, and none of our virtues?” he said.

“But our national identity and culture are weathering constant attempts to recast Australia as something it isn’t.”

Lachlan Murdoch

Lachlan Murdoch has been described as ‘considerably more brutal’ than his father. Photo: AAP

He has also defended Tucker Carlson’s airing of the “great replacement theory,” a conspiracy theory that falsely alleges that white people are intentionally and systematically being replaced by immigrants, and continuously argued that Fox News’s coverage is both balanced and fair.

The business

Lachlan has tasted both success and failure in his business career, having turned Tubi into a billion-dollar streaming service, but also previously experiencing searing failure after losing his $150 million investment in Channel 10.

His $10 million investment in realestate.com.au has turned into a billion-dollar success story, and he had an estimated worth of $3.95 billion in 2022.

He has now inherited the business his grandfather started and his father built into a global empire capable of wielding immense influence and power.

How he will wield it remains to be seen.

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