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Who’s Who: Meet the Murdoch Family

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CNN

By Beth Marengo and Samaria Parker, CNN

Over the past 70 years, media magnate Rupert Murdoch has built a small, family-run Australian newspaper company into the most powerful conservative media empire in history. With a market cap of $13.50 billion, News Corp is one of the most influential companies on the planet.

The story behind the ruthless business tactics, political maneuverings and dynastic family battles that helped create this media powerhouse would be perfect fodder for any of News Corp’s news outlets or TV stations. It wasn’t about Rupert himself. Now, as the seemingly invincible figure moves forward into the 90s, speculation across the worlds of business, politics and entertainment about who will succeed him as head of News Corp has reached a fever pitch.

Here’s a look at who’s who in the potential line of succession and the wider Murdoch clan.

Patriarch

Rupert Murdoch

Australian-born Rupert Murdoch, 91, is the media mogul who turned the small newspaper business he inherited from his father in 1952 into News Corporation, Ltd., the now multi-billion dollar global media empire. in cable, film, television, Internet, satellite, sports, publishing and other fields. At various times, the conglomerate has included the News of the World newspapers, the Sun, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal; Twentieth Century Fox Film Studio; the Fox Broadcasting Network; Fox News channel; Edition HarperCollins and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Murdoch has been married four times and fathered six children during his seven-decade career. Several of Murdoch’s children followed him into the family business. Murdoch’s penchant for pitting siblings against each other in a year-long competition to see who will succeed him at the helm of News Corp is widely credited as the inspiration for the popular HBO series, “Succession.”

Murdoch’s cruelty extends far beyond his family circle. Early in his career, he developed the tactic of competing against the competition by buying them out or bankrupting them. Relations with its British tabloids came under scrutiny in 2011 when journalists were discovered hacking into the phones of royals, celebrities and crime victims to get their stories. The Murdoch family brand made headlines again when Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes was forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations in 2016.

Murdoch still holds the top job at News Corp, the second incarnation of the defunct News Corporation which split into two companies in 2013. It’s unclear who will lead the company when he passes away.

Potential heirs

Lachlan Murdoch

Lachlan Murdoch, 50, is the eldest son of Rupert Murdoch with his second wife, Anna. He began learning the family business at a young age through media internships from his father. He quickly rose through the management ranks and by 1997 had become Chairman and CEO of News Ltd. At the time, his father described Lachlan as his heir apparent, “the first among equals”. His rise continued smoothly until 2005. That year, Lachlan abruptly left his leadership positions at News Corporation after a battle with Ailes. on the direction of the cable information network – thus withdrawing from the trail of the apparent heir. Lachlan then started his own investment company, Illyria Pty, in Australia. After a long absence, Lachlan returned to the family business in 2014 and resumed his position as the potential heir to the empire, becoming CEO of Fox Broadcasting and executive chairman of 21st Century Fox. Soon after, Lachlan’s younger brother James was named CEO of 21st Century Fox in a power-sharing experiment orchestrated by Rupert between the brothers. The experiment proved unsuccessful, and Rupert sold 21st Century Fox to Disney in 2019. Lachlan now serves as executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corporation and co-chairman of News Corp, as well as executive chairman of NOVA Entertainment, a Australian media company. .

James Murdoch

James Murdoch, 49, is Rupert Murdoch’s fourth child and second son with his second wife, Anna. James’ early career choices were at odds with his father’s conservative newspaper empire. He left Harvard in 1995 to start his own hip-hop label, Rawkus Records. After several years, he rose to senior positions in News Corporation and assumed the role of businessman. After Lachlan left Fox in 2005, James was increasingly seen as his father’s new heir apparent.

In 2007, James became president of BSkyB. In 2011, he was appointed Deputy CEO of News Corporation and Chairman and CEO of News International. But as James reached new heights within the empire, the company was engulfed in scandal when investigators and reporters discovered that staff at some Murdoch tabloids in Britain had hacked into the phones of public figures and crime victims to get their stories. As a result, James was forced to step down as chairman of BSkyB.

After several years of hiatus, he rejoined the family business, eventually becoming chairman of Sky and CEO of 21st Century Fox, co-running the company with his older brother Lachlan, who served as executive chairman. The joint management deal didn’t work out and James left 21st Century Fox in 2019 when the company was sold to Disney, then left Sky when majority control was acquired by Comcast. Long known as the only liberal in the Murdoch clan, James’ political disputes with his family came to a head and he resigned from the News Corp board in 2020, writing at the time: “My resignation is due to disagreements on certain editorial content. published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions. »

Elizabeth Murdoch

Elisabeth Murdoch, 53, is Rupert Murdoch’s second child, the first he had with his second wife Anna Murdoch. Elisabeth began her training in the family business early on with internships and entry-level jobs at Murdoch properties. In 1996, she became Managing Director of Sky Networks at BSkyB. But several years later, she was dropped as Sky’s chief executive.

Rupert considers Elisabeth to be most like him, but he’s been more dismissive of her attempts to take the throne, saying that at some point she should figure out how many children she wants to have before planning any further advancements in the world. business. In 2000 she left the family business and founded Shine, one of the UK’s largest independent production companies with shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’, ‘Master Chef’ and ‘History Cold Case’.

When News Corporation acquired Shine in 2011, Elisabeth tried to serve on News Corporation’s board of directors, but scrutiny of the phone-hacking scandal prevented that from happening. She left Shine after a merger with two other production companies. In 2019 she set up a new production company, Sister, and in 2021 Sister funded the opening of a London branch of the Ghetto Film School, a non-profit program aimed at introducing young people of color to filmmaking. entertainment industry.

wives

Patricia Booker

Rupert Murdoch and his first wife, Patricia Booker, a former department store model and flight attendant, married in 1956. She gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Prudence, two years later. The marriage lasted 11 years; they divorced in 1967.

Anna Murdoch

Rupert met Anna Torv in her newspaper The Daily Mirror, in Sydney, where she worked as a journalist. A few months after his divorce from Patricia, Rupert and Anna got married. They had three children together, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, now the main claimants to the legacy of the Murdoch empire. Over the years, Anna has published several novels, one of which featured a family that looked eerily similar to her own. She spent three decades raising their family and acting as Rupert’s loyal partner on the world stage. In the mid-1990s, as Rupert neared the conventional retirement age, Anna hoped his relentless drive to build the empire would wane and he would spend more time with her enjoying their golden years. Rupert was completely opposed to this idea. The disagreement led to an irreconcilable split and the two divorced in 1999, after 31 years of marriage.

Wendi Deng

Deng, 53, the third wife of Rupert Murdoch, is mother to his two youngest children, Grace Murdoch, 20, and Chloe Murdoch, 18. Wendi met Rupert while working on her Star TV network in Hong Kong. The newcomer immediately charmed the media mogul; a former colleague said: ‘She was always someone who was going to do well. We just didn’t realize how much. They married in June 1999, two years after they met and just 17 days after Rupert divorced his second wife Anna has been finalized. Wendi became one of Rupert’s closest advisers and confidants, but his eldest children opposed the marriage and viewed Wendi as a potential contender for control of the Murdoch Empire. But after 14 years, the marriage fell apart amid allegations of infidelity by Wendi, which she declined to comment on.

jerry room

Former model and ex-girlfriend of rock star Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall married Rupert Murdoch in 2016 when she was 59 and he was 85. The adult Murdoch children really love Jerry and approved of the union , very different circumstances of his marriage to Wendi Deng. . The London wedding was a joyful family affair and featured a rare moment of togetherness within the Murdoch clan.

other children

Prudence McLeod

Prudence Macleod is Rupert’s eldest child from his first marriage to Patricia Booker. Prudence never showed much interest in running the family business, so she largely stayed out of the succession battle that ensnared her siblings Elisabeth, Lachlan and James. She has held various positions at News Corporation throughout her career and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Times Newspapers, Ltd. She also owns a voting share in the Murdoch Family Trust.

Grace Murdoch and Chloe Murdoch

Grace, 20, and Chloe, 18, are Murdoch’s two youngest children from his marriage to Wendi Deng. They spent their childhoods shuttling between family properties in New York, Los Angeles and Arizona and luxury vacation destinations around the world. Both attended the prestigious Brearley School in Manhattan. Grace has now moved on to Yale University while Chloe studies at Stanford. The younger Murdochs have non-voting shares in the Murdoch family trust, which positions them, along with their older half-siblings, to inherit billions.

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