New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd interviewed James Murdoch for a profile published in Saturday‘s Style section.
This was Murdoch’s first major interview since he resigned from the board of News Corp at the end of July, at the time saying he was leaving “due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions.”
It was previously reported, and Dowd reiterated in her story, that Murdoch and his wife, Kathryn, expressed “frustration” about News Corp’s peddling of climate change denialism in the face of Australian wildfires that incinerated 46 million acres.
“Fox nighttime anchors picked up a false story line about arson from The Australian, a Murdoch-owned newspaper in Oz,” Dowd writes.
The conservative publications’ coverage of climate, plus the fact that he couldn’t influence his father, Rupert Murdoch, to hire former Fox News exec-turned CBS News president David Rhodes after the Roger Ailes scandal, as well as his inability of getting his father to change his views on climate science—all played a role in his decision to exit.
Murdoch told Dowd that he and his father “have argued about politics since I was a teenager.”
In addition to speaking about his exit from the News Corp board, Dowd spoke with Murdoch about his his role in the 21st Century Fox/Disney deal, his stance on Fox News and other conservative News Corp properties and how he hopes to help the news business for the next generation. Dowd writes:
He [Murdoch] is particularly excited about investing in start-ups created to combat fake news and the spread of disinformation, having found the proliferation of deep fakes “terrifying” because they “undermine our ability to discern what’s true and what’s not” and it “is only at the beginning as far as I can tell.” He’s funding a research program to study digital manipulation of societies, hoping to curtail “the use of technology to promulgate totalitarianism’’ and undermine democracies.
“So everything from the use of mass surveillance, telephone networks, 5G, all that stuff, domestically in a country like China, for example,” he said.
Dowd also conducted an amusing “Confirm or Deny” with Murdoch:
Dowd: Judge Jeanine Pirro is really fun at the company Christmas party.
James Murdoch: I have no knowledge of that.
You don’t watch Fox News.
Sometimes I watch, if there’s an important thing, like an important interview or something like that, sometimes.