James Murdoch’s comments capture the paradox of life and echoes what a true hero said this week: “Thank you, but f&ck you.”
Is James Murdoch, the son of Rupert Murdoch, lacking awareness or displaying courage when he says that “media property owners’ who have ‘unleashed insidious’ forces with election denialism claims.”
While Rupert Murdoch is one of the iconic storyteller/entrepreneurs in the history of media, reality is Rupert had a head start by taking over his father’s newspapers. He undoubtedly deserves credit for subsequently building not just a media and entertainment empire, but also exerting political influence unlike any other: in Australia, the UK and of course, the USA. He single-handedly helped install the disastrous George W. Bush in power, pushed America into the war in Iraq, and more devastatingly paved the way for The Donald’s ridiculously shameful regime which ended up with him essentially hijacking the GOP, then the Presidency, and finally the Capitol in a display that would make Osama bin Laden blush with envy.
The Case Against the Murdochs
Let the record show, as matter of fact:
"Rupert Murdoch’s six children each received up to $2bn from the break-up of his media empire and the sale of his entertainment businesses to Walt Disney in 2019. Overlooked in the family succession battle, James went on to use the funds to establish Lupa Systems, an investment vehicle to build a media portfolio."
The popular saying is that such families go “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Given that Rupert’s sons were technically the third generations of the clan, I commend the two sons for displaying the kind of drive, ambition, intelligence, passion and execution that most “rich kids” lack. But while Lachlan clearly revels in his son of Rupert reputation, James seems to be lacking awareness when getting on his soapbox and displaying such “bothsiderism.” The fact that his fatwa was limited to a vague and obtuse criticism of “media property owners” lacks awareness at best, hypocritical at worse (if not criminal in reality).
Behind Every Great Fortune is a Crime (Honore de Balzac)
Let the record state that the young James wasn’t merely a witness who was born in privilege and happened to inherit a fortune. He was a lead antagonist in his father’s reign of terror, as CEO of 21st Century Fox from 2015-19. Granted, that was the entertainment arm of Fox (his brother ran the news hatchet operation which, amongst other things surveilled dead people).
In his declaration today, the lad named James echoes other billionaires who suddenly find religion and morality once they hit paydirt, a bit like Facebook investor Roger McNamee who didn’t have any scruples about investing in Mark Zuckerberg’s baby but then became a vocal critic thereafter. To be fair, McNamee seems like a great individual who was already very successful, but his criticism of Facebook lacks a bit of sincerity, IMHO, as well.
Had James come out and said something like:
"CNN's Jeff Zucker created the nightmare known as Donald Trump as producer of The Apprentice while he ran NBC, and his non-stop coverage of Trump's rallies amplified his impact as head of CNN, but that pales next to my father's decisions and influence - which I played a part in, for that I regret... and am focused on improving, along with my wife Kathryn,"
then maybe, he could be forgiven a tad. But how can we forget the blood on the Murdochs’ hand? I won’t blame his wife Kathryn whom has been a vocal critic of her father-in-law (despite joining him for the ride and enjoying the fruits of her husband’s family’s disastrous labor), but by so vaguely brushing such a neutral paint across the entire spectrum, I can’t help but wonder, WTF?
I don’t blame James for not ripping to Rupert or Lachlan, but I am a bit baffled as to why people give the any of the Murdoch’s a pass. If Corporate America has begun to “cancel” Trump Inc., when will the Murdoch’s get their due? By the way, Rupert’s henchmen sued me in 2006 but I went to court and destroyed them; it’s irrelevant here but in terms of journalism 101, ’tis something worth disclosing. But as I said, forgive but don’t forget.
Which takes me to my bigger beef.
Born on Third Base
I could write a book about this (oh, wait, I did). While in some ways some may view me as somewhat a “self-made person,” I personally recognize the privileges I did have (born to a good family, shelter, food, education, etc.) but James is the kind of person that one could consider to have been “born on third base but feeling like he hit a triple.” It’s unclear – aside from being born to Rupert Murdoch – what James’ independent contributions to life would have been… yet we now suddenly give him a pass for showing a conscience when in fact said conscience seems to have grown once he was passed up by old man Murdoch in favor of the elder Lachlan. Ask yourself honestly, had Rupert handed the mantle to James and not Lachlan, would James be showing such courage? I don’t think so.
FWIW, as an entrepreneur and businessman, setting aside politics, I actually respect and admire men who like James (and Lachlan, too) were born on third base but accomplished more than relaxing on yachts, drinking good champagne and bedding attractive women. But it’s hard to overlook the politics, since after all context is king. Personally, I find this all to be “too little, too late.”
But better late than never. While it’s nice to hear him speak up now, it echoes what a true hero recently said: “Thank you, but f*ck you.”