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Murdoch’s Son Slams Family Media Empire For Climate Denial

Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch (left) at a Vanity Fair party in 2011. (Photo: Daniel Shankbone). James Murdoch (right) at the Monaco Media Forum in 2008. (Photo: Eirik Solheim)

“They are pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual. It’s evidence of how high tensions are within the family over climate change.”

Division within the Murdoch media empire intensified on Tuesday after Rupert’s younger son James and his activist wife Kathryn slammed his family’s outlets for promoting climate change denialism as bushfires continue to devastate Australia.

“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple exclusively told The Daily Beast, who reported the story. “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

Australia’s bushfire has gained international attention in recent weeks, having taken at least 27 lives with an estimated 1 billion or more animals believed to be dead as a result of the flames, in addition to thousands of destroyed properties.

The news hints at the possibility of change at the massively influential Murdoch media empire, as the 88-year old Rupert Murdoch is reportedly in ill-health and one of his inheritors holds staunchly different views than his father. James has long had a tense relationship with his brother Lachlan, who oversees Fox News.

“They are pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual. It’s evidence of how high tensions are within the family over climate change. The majority of people who work here agree with James. We are hoping this may be the tipping point,” an anonymous News Corps executive told the Daily Beast.

With ownership of two-thirds of the country’s print media, Murdoch’s influence may be even greater in Australia than it is in the United States. Murdoch’s Australian outlets have not only influenced climate policy through the press but also through a revolving door with the country’s government, which is deeply connected to the fossil fuel industry.

Australia has consistently been ranked at the bottom of the annual Climate Change Policy Index analysis of the world’s top 57 emitting nations, with one analysis showing the country responsible for 5% of global carbon emissions when including its coal and gas exports. “The most recent analysis ranked Australia as the sixth worst country on climate change overall,” noted the Guardian.

The news comes shortly after Emily Townsend, a commercial finance manager at Murdoch-owned News Corp, condemned the outlet for its “misinformation campaign that has tried to divert attention away from the real issue which is climate change to rather focus on arson (including misrepresenting facts).”

“I find it unconscionable to continue working for this company, knowing I am contributing to the spread of climate change denial and lies. The reporting I have witnessed in the Australian, the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun is not only irresponsible, but dangerous and damaging to our communities and beautiful planet that needs us more than ever now to acknowledge the destruction we have caused and start doing something about it.”

Critics have pushed back against Murdoch’s outlets for misleading reporting on arson crimes involved with the current bushfire season, including using some 12-month totals and citing statistics from other bushfire-related offenses, inflating the perceived contribution of arson on the record-breaking fires. “A record 4.9 million hectares of New South Wales have been burned, eclipsing the previous highest of 3.5 million in 1974-5,” reported Quartz.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a staff writer and assistant editor at Citizen Truth.

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