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James Murdoch attacks family empire

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James Murdoch attacks family empire

In an extraordinary attack on his familys media empire, Rupert Murdochs younger son has accused News Corps Australian papers of climate change denialism.

James Murdoch attacks family empireToday's PaperMenuSearchSearchMoreToday's PaperAdvertisementPrint articleJames Murdoch attacks family empireMedia & Marketing EditorJan 15, 2020 — 8.24amShare

James Murdoch has launched an extraordinary attack on his family's media empire, accusing News Corp's Australian publications in particular of promoting climate change denialism.

James Murdoch is disappointed by News Corp's coverage of climate change.  Bloomberg

Mr Murdoch, the younger son of News Corp and Fox Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and brother of News Corp co-chairman and Fox chief executive Lachlan Murdoch, broke ranks with his family on Wednesday (AEST) with a statement conveyed through a spokesperson representing him and his wife Kathryn.

“Kathryn and James [Murdoch's] 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,” the spokesperson told the US-based online news and opinion journal The Daily Beast.

“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial [of the role of climate change] among the news outlets in Australia, given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

James Murdoch sits on the board of News Corp and is a former chief executive of 21st Century Fox. He was once seen as a potential successor to his father, before his brother Lachlan came back to the family business in 2014. James Murdoch largely split from the family business following the sale of Fox's entertainment assets to Disney last year.

, accused the company of a “misinformation campaign” to take attention away from climate change during the bushfire crisis in Australia.

Ms Townsend – who resigned in December, according to company – responded to an all-staff email from Australasia chairman Michael Miller that outlined what the company was doing to support the country during the crisis.

“Unfortunately, however, this does not offset the impact News Corp reporting has had over the last few weeks,” Ms Townsend wrote in a reply forwarded reply to all of News Corp’s local editorial staff.

“I have been severely impacted by the coverage of News Corp publications in relation to the fires, in particular the 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).”

Bushfires have raged in Australia since September, claiming the lives of 28 people, destroying more than 2,500 homes, killing an estimated more than 1 billion animals and wiping out forests and farmland the size of Bulgaria.

Mr Miller rejected Ms Townsend's claims, saying the role of arsonists and policies that may have contributed to the spread of fires are legitimate stories.

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“Our coverage has recognised that Australia is having a serious conversation about climate change and how to respond to it. However, it has also reflected there are a variety of views and opinions about the current fire crisis,” he said.

“Contrary to what some critics have argued, News Corp does not deny climate change or the gravity of its threat. However, we – as is the traditional role of a publisher – do report a variety of views and opinions on this issue and many others that are important in the public discourse on the fires.”

Kathryn Murdoch pictured last July.  Bloomberg

A News Corp spokesman declined to comment on James and Kathryn Murdoch’s statement. The spokesman directed The Australian Financial Review back to an editorial in The Australian on Saturday.

“In our coverage, The Australian’s journalists report facts about how to tackle bushfires and about how to deal with the impact of climate change.” it says.

“Second, we host debates reflecting the political division that exists in Australia about how to address climate change without destroying our economy.

“However, our factual account of bushfires, climate change and the remedies, as well as our editorial commentary on these issues, have been wilfully and ineptly misrepresented by The New York Times and Guardian Australia as climate denial.”

News Corp announced on Tuesday that it would donate $5 million for bushfire relief in Australia. This is on top of $2 million donated by Rupert and Jerry Murdoch, $2 million from Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch, as well as the donation of sale proceeds from all metropolitan newpapers and advertisements on January 21.

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“It is clear that confronting the bushfire disaster in Australia requires both an immediate response and an ongoing investment in rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of those most affected by the fires across the country,” Rupert Murdoch said.

“As a company with roots in Australia and an abiding commitment to its people and communities, we are determined to help, both in this time of great need and well into the future, as the hard work of restoration continues.”

At News Corp’s annual general meeting in November last year, Rupert Murdoch was asked about the company’s stance on climate change and the amount of airtime it gives to conservatives arguing against it.

“There are no climate change deniers around, I can assure you,” Mr Murdoch responded. “We have reduced our global carbon footprint by 25 per cent six years ahead of schedule.”

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is The Australian Financial Review’s Media & Marketing Editor. He writes about the rapidly evolving media landscape, changing business models and the growth of digital. Connect with Max on . Email Max at Most Viewed In Companies

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