Rupert Murdoch hands leadership of media empire to son Lachlan

Australian born media magnate Rupert Murdoch (C) flanked by his sons Lachlan (L) and James (R) arrive at St Bride's Church on Fleet Street in central London on March 5, 2016
AFP file photo

Rupert Murdoch will step down as chairman of his media empire, a conservative behemoth that helped shape politics around the world, and hand control to his son Lachlan, Fox Corp. and News Corp. announced Thursday.

The Australian-born 92-year-old, who built a global entertainment and news juggernaut that shaped events from Brexit to the rise of Donald Trump, will shift into an emeritus status at both companies in mid-November, the companies said.

"I am writing to let you all know that I have decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus," Murdoch said in a letter to colleagues, according to a story on Fox News' website.

"Neither excessive pride nor false humility are admirable qualities. But I am truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades, and I owe much to my colleagues."

The announcement marks a major transition for a singular figure who rose from the world of local news in Adelaide, Australia, before purchasing legacy tabloid and broadsheet newspapers in the United States and Britain and establishing hugely popular cable television operations.

Along the way, Murdoch has become an influential power player in global politics thanks to a news division that often blurred the line between commentary and journalism, championing right-wing voices who sometimes disregarded facts in promoting partisan narratives.

This file picture taken on February 22, 2015, shows Rupert Murdoch arriving at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California
AFP file photo

In April, Fox News reached a $787.5 million settlement in a defamation case brought by voting technology company Dominion that alleged the network knowingly aired false claims linking Dominion's machines to a conspiracy to undermine the 2020 US election.

The Dominion suit, which was settled shortly before going to trial, had argued that a stream of prominent Fox newscasters and commentators had promoted ex-president Trump's lies about both the vote and Dominion's machines.

A week after the settlement, Fox ousted conservative firebrand Tucker Carlson, one of several prominent Fox figures who had publicly championed Trump while castigating him in private messages to colleagues, a fact made public by the Dominion suit.

The transition of leadership to Murdoch's son Lachlan, executive chair and chief executive officer at Fox Corporation, follows a period of intense speculation about the media empire's transition plans that proved inspiration for the fictionalized and highly-rated "Succession" series on HBO.

"On behalf of the FOX and News Corp. boards of directors, leadership teams, and all the shareholders who have benefited from his hard work, I congratulate my father on his remarkable 70-year career," Lachlan Murdoch said in a news release.

"We thank him for his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and countless people he has impacted."