In early July 2022, Jerry Hall cited “irreconcilable differences” as she filed for divorce from Rupert Murdoch. According to the media, the split came as a surprise to people close to the family. The news of Murdoch’s fourth divorce has gripped the whole world.
Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born media mogul, started his career from two Adelaide newspapers. After years of expansion and reorganization, he eventually built News Corp, a media empire that spans more than 70 countries in five continents, covering such fields as newspaper, magazine, book publishing, cable television, film production and network. His media empire includes Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and New York Post in US, as well as The Sun and The Times in UK.
Murdoch has drastically altered the political landscape in such countries as UK, US and Australia with the help of News Corp. The media and politicians take what they need and serve each other’s purpose for mutual benefit in the binding of interests. From Margaret Thatcher to David Cameron, Murdoch has been a guest of every British prime ministers. Murdoch’s media Fox News, as Donald Trump’s fanatical supporter and mouthpiece, has forged a close rapport with him. According to This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future written by New York Times reporters, Fox News joined Trump in peddling lies and inciting the mob, inspiring a riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and a flood of harassment and death threats against anti-Trump lawmakers in both parties.
Murdoch’s political manipulation as a businessman has aroused antipathy among politicians in many countries and the relationships between Murdoch and governments remain something of a mystery. His interference in political affairs backfired on his career in a way he could not have foreseen or controlled. As Fox News spewed forth a torrent of anti-Biden programming, trying to throw sand in the gear in the hope that Biden administration can’t function, the conflict between Biden administration and Murdoch intensified. President Biden assessed Fox as one of the most destructive forces in the United States, and Murdoch the most dangerous man in the world.
In recent years, Murdoch’s media has been beset by one scandal after another and has taken a lot of flak. Journalists at News Corp’s News of the World were accused of making payments to police and hacking into the phones of celebrities, lawmakers, royalty and murder victims and other figures in the news, according to media reports. In July 2011, Murdoch was forced to close down News of the World amid the snowballing allegations, but public opinion did not subside. In May 2012, British lawmakers investigating phone hacking declared that Murdoch is not a “fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” In addition to the British inquiry, Murdoch and the News Corporation were also under investigation by FBI officials in the United States. News of the World is not the only media owned by Murdoch to be embroiled in scandals. The Sun has also been mired in a multi-pronged scandal over claims of phone hacking and unlawful information gathering. The Sun was sued and paid substantial damages to victims. The phone-hacking scandal left Murdoch in dire straits, triggering government inquiry as well as a chorus of condemnation and boycott from around the world. In October 2020, former Australian Labor prime minister, Kevin Rudd, filed a petition calling on parliament to investigate the tight ownership of Australian media by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. This petition also called for recommendations to boost media diversity. Rudd urged people to sign the petition and said, “Murdoch has become a cancer, an arrogant cancer on our democracy.”
Murdoch is now 91 years old. What will be the final destiny of Murdoch’s media empire after he hands over the reins of power? His media empire is already on shaky ground in the game with political groups and public opinion.