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Dominion sees end of KRM reign

September 21, 2023

You could be forgiven for assuming that Keith Rupert Murdoch answers to no one but himself. And there’s plenty in that – though his companies have been public for years, they have, in effect, been fiefdoms following the iron will of their leader.

And that will has led his companies to participate in several groundbreaking, genuinely innovative, businesses: Sky and Fox Network to name but two. These projects were so much against the odds, it is hard to believe any other media executive would have pulled one of them off, let alone both. But these endeavours, and others, were highwire acts with huge costs, and both brought the empire close to collapse. Profits have been less certain over the years, with very long-term Murdoch followers not outperforming the media market in general.  Maybe they stick around for the show.

Of course, the show is now Succession. Widely assumed to be based on the Murdochs, it depicts offspring competing for the top job of their aging father. They are not an impressive bunch, as the lead character Logan Roy (aka KRM) laments “I love you all, but you are not serious people”.

This would be harsh on the Murdoch brood. James and Elisabeth have, perhaps against the odds, proved themselves astute and, now, independent business people. Both have been inside the empire but chose to leave mainly put-off by the toxicity leeching from the prized asset of the last couple of decades, Fox News. Lachlan, who effectively takes over from dad, is known mainly for his affinity with Fox News, indeed some say he is more of an enthusiast for its more off-piste (off planet?) hard right performers than KRM.

It is some of these performers who have, ironically, probably brought us to this point. Stockholders are furious that the Murdochs let things get so out of hand that Dominion voting machines scored an easy $800 million defamation win because Fox News shot its mouth off about the 2020 election being stolen. The still strong vein of old-style scoop journalism running through Murdoch (missing entirely in his children), means that he knew the defence that it wasn’t reporting but was ‘an expression of free speech’ when anchors and others knowingly lied about the case, was nonsense.

No, as he always had, Murdoch gambled, he bet that there wouldn’t be a case, and if there were it would cost no more than $50 million. He knew he’d lose more than that if the network told the truth that would have viewers abandon ship over the starboard side towards News Max.

Now several stockholders are suing News Corp for negligence and there’s another, potentially bigger, defamation case pending from another vote machine company. Like I say, Murdoch answers to no one, but this case has put him under real pressure. But, most likely, it is his own self-knowledge that this isn’t a judgement he’d have got this wrong ten or twenty years ago that has led most directly to these events.

Categories: Blogs, Business, Nick Snow, Off Message, People

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