Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Succession is real as Rupert Murdoch's son bails on News Corp board

Lachlan, Rupert, and James Murdoch
Lachlan, Rupert, and James Murdoch
Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo (Getty Images)

Waystar Royco, the ginormous, rapacious, backwards-facing, omnivorous, morally bankrupt media conglomerate that serves (along with the coveted kiss from daddy) as the tumorous prize being squabbled over by the various Roy kids on HBO’s Succession, isn’t based on any one particular real-world corporation. But if it was, that corporation would probably be Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., the wholesome little family-owned business that owns vast swathes of the planet’s media enterprises. (Not as much as it did before 2013, when Murdoch split the company up in an alleged bid to lose some of the heat from the British phone hacking scandal, but still: Big.) Now those parallels are getting even more obvious, courtesy of a bit of clear dissension in the ranks, as Murdoch’s son, James—a long-time member of his father’s organization, albeit one who’s sometimes been at odds with with his dad’s more conservative leanings—resigned his post on the company’s executive board due to “editorial disagreements” with some of its publications.

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Said publications, it’s worth noting, do not include Fox News, which runs under the Fox Corporation, broken off from News Corp. in the aforementioned split and handed off to James’ elder brother, Lachlan, to run. (Lachlan himself is loaded down with a healthy dose of Roy vibes, too, given his high-profile and abrupt departure from his father’s companies in 2005, and return to the fold to take up the designated heir spot a decade later.) Fox Corporation itself is what’s left of the Fox brand after most of 21st Century Fox was sold off to Disney (ending James Murdoch’s stint as its CEO in the process), and includes the Fox network, plus Fox Business, Fox Sports, and Fox News. That’s wholly (or at least mostly; there’s a lot of overlapping Murdochs here) separate from News Corp, which is what James has now resigned from the board of. He’s apparently pissed off about some of the company’s print offerings, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Harper Collins, and a number of papers owned under the News Corp Australia brand.

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In his resignation letter, Murdoch didn’t go into detail beyond the “editorial disagreements” line, although in the past, he’s issued statements of unhappiness about some of the publications’ stances on climate change. In any case, it’s the clearest possible signal that he’s distancing himself from some of the Murdoch family’s most high-profile holdings, leaving brother Lachlan and News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson (who’s managed to hold his position for years despite the critical lack of any of Rupert Murdoch’s DNA) to chart the massive companies’ various blundering courses into the ever-more-profitable future.

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