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Fox News Lurches Left as Murdoch’s Sons Take Control of Media Dynasty

By Jerry A. Kane

Rupert Murdoch handed over 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate behind Fox News, to sons James and Lachlan July 1, 2015. James is now CEO and Lachlan executive co-chairman. Last year Murdoch elevated his sons to prominent positions, James to co-COO and Lachlan to non-executive co-chairman, but the turnover of the conglomerate came sooner than expected.

For 15 years, Roger Ailes has enjoyed near total autonomy as head of Fox News, but Ailes’ sovereign rule ended abruptly with the move. A 21st Century Fox spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter from now on, “Roger will report to Lachlan and James.”

“For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion.”

To say that Ailes and Murdoch’s son James have a strained relationship would be a bit of an understatement. James, whose wife once worked for the Clinton Foundation, is a rabid environmentalist who led the campaign to make News Corp a carbon-neutral company. Conversely, Ailes is a “fierce climate-change denier,” who allegedly has called James a “fucking dope” and “Fredo.”

Ailes was not notified of the management change in advance. Apparently, Murdoch has been convinced that Fox News will continue do well without Ailes at the helm. Last year Ailes took a leave of absence due to an illness, and the network’s ratings didn’t slide.

Now that control of Fox News has been given to Murdoch’s sons Ailes’ fair and balanced reporting and conservative punditry will soon fall by the wayside.

“I think the boys are back … yoked together in a sort of competitive collaboration,” said David Folkenflik, author of Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires.

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06:  FOX News anchors (L-R) Chris Wallace, Megan Kelly and Bret Baier moderate the first prime-time Republican presidential debate hosted at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 06: FOX News anchors (L-R) Chris Wallace, Megan Kelly and Bret Baier moderate the first prime-time Republican presidential debate hosted at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Last month at the behest of Ailes, Fox News gave Trump more airtime than any other candidate, and analysts and hosts made pro-Trump arguments and gushed over him. But then the network jumped the shark at the Republican Party’s first presidential primary debate in Cleveland, Ohio, last Thursday.

Murdoch’s message to blunt Trump’s rise in the polls came loud and clear over his social media and publishing outlets, and the Fox News debate moderators tried to destroy his candidacy in a single night by unleashing an all-out character assassination to discredit him.

“This wasn’t a debate, at least not like most of those I’ve seen. This was an inquisition.”—Frank Bruni, journalist, New York Times

Throughout the night, Fox News moderators, Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Megyn Kelly, deluged Trump with cheap shots and sophomoric “gotcha” questions, while pitting the candidates and the audience against him.

It was an obvious planned hit to destroy Trump’s candidacy, a failed bread and circus show that left viewers with nothing substantive but a foul taste in their mouths. Cyberspace erupted with “disappointing, disgusting, embarrassing, appalling, shocking, and shameful.”

In spite of the moderators’ collective efforts to take care of “This Trump Thing,” Trump managed to survive their inquisition, but the network that Ailes had built over the past 15 years did not. Fox News died a humiliating death at Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015, in front of 24 million viewers. In display of solidarity with its leftist alphabet and cable network counterparts, the network relinquished any pretense of credibility.

The weight of this sad time we must obey,

Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

The oldest hath borne most: we that are young

Shall never see so much, nor live so long.”

― William Shakespeare, King Lear

 

 

For more on the story, see Roger Ailes’s Demotion Signals Power Shift Within Murdoch Empire, THE FUTURE OF FOX: Murdoch’s sons taking over at 21st Century, and Rupert Murdoch Wants to Stop Donald Trump, But First He’s Got to Rein In Roger Ailes.

 

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