Murdoch empire upheaval coincides with Fox News criticism from within

Media mogul plans to keep lucrative US network accused of fostering hatred

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox will be split, with the mogul hanging onto much-criticised Fox News. Photograph: Mark Lennihan / AFP

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox will be split, with the mogul hanging onto much-criticised Fox News. Photograph: Mark Lennihan / AFP

 

Wholesome Disney has gained what might yet be the definitive edge in its battle with Comcast to buy the entertainment assets of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. These assets include Fox’s movie studio 20th Century Fox, the FX network and the company’s 39 per cent stake in Sky (which it is hoping to increase to 100 per cent before selling it to Disney). They don’t, however, include the politically hard right Fox News.

The network, spiritual home to extremist commentators such as Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, will be among the Murdoch-controlled US broadcasting interests that will be spun off into an independent entity called New Fox, to be run by the mogul’s son Lachlan Murdoch.

The split within 21st Century Fox comes at a time of deep and public discomfort within the Murdoch empire at the fascistic messages emanating from Fox News.

Last weekend, Coulter looked directly to camera to tell Donald Trump that migrant children distressed at being separated from their parents were “child actors”. Carlson implored Fox viewers to “always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations” (other than Fox). Ingraham described Trump’s caged tent cities for children as “essentially summer camps”.

“This is fringe s***, and it’s business like this that makes me embarrassed to work for this company,” said Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane in response to Carlson, while Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan labelled Ingraham’s comment “bull****” and Coulter as “the face of pure evil”.

Several other Hollywood producers and directors, some with Fox connections, have condemned the Murdoch news network.

MacFarlane will get no relief from a Disney (or Comcast) deal: Fox Broadcasting Network, on which Family Guy airs, is not one of the assets that will be sold. Modern Family, however, airs on ABC and is made by 20th Century Fox Television, which will be sold, breaking its connection with Fox News. Nevertheless, Levitan tweeted that once the series comes to its end, “sale or no sale”, he looked forward to “setting up shop elsewhere”.

Perhaps there will be a price for Murdoch to pay for the stream of “fringe s***” after all.