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Lachlan’s Dowry

SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 13: (L to R) Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp and chairman of Fox News, and Lachlan Murdoch, co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, walk together as they arrive on the third day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
If Lachlan proves effective as the sole chairman and C.E.O. in the eyes of Wall Street analysts and investors, it may become harder for the martyr heirs to execute such a plan. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
September 22, 2023

On Thursday, in a move at once momentous and mundane, the 92-year-old Rupert Murdoch announced he would transition to the role of chairman emeritus at Fox Corp. and News Corp., formally passing the reins of what’s left of his international media empire to his eldest and favored son, Lachlan. The announcement predictably induced a flood of obituaries for Murdoch’s historic ascent from a provincial Australian newspaper heir, seven decades ago, to the incomparable international media baron whose indulgence with oversized-all-caps right-wing populism forever coarsened the civic and political culture in at least three of the world’s leading democracies and, in the inadvertent coup de grace, helped deliver Donald Trump to the White House. Along the way, Murdoch also fleeced Bob Iger for $71 billion.

Of course, Murdoch is not dead, not yet, nor is there any indication—so long as he is of relative health and sentience—that he plans to relinquish his throne. Indeed, Thursday’s announcement effectively formalized a corporate arrangement that has already been in place for years—one wherein Lachlan officially runs the business day-to-day, quarter-to-quarter, while his father, who still controls the company by virtue of his voting shares, weighs in as early and often as he wants and inevitably finds a receptive, deferential audience. “In my new role, I can guarantee you I will be involved every day in the contest of ideas,” Rupert wrote in his memo to employees. “When I visit your countries and companies, you can expect to see me in the office late on a Friday afternoon.”