Rupert Murdoch, the founder of a global media empire that includes Fox News, has said he “never asked a prime minister for anything.”
But that empire has given him influence over world affairs in a way few private citizens ever have, granting the Murdoch family enormous sway over not just the United States, but English-speaking countries around the world.
A six-month investigation by The New York Times covering three continents and including more than 150 interviews has described how Mr Murdoch and his feuding sons turned their media outlets into right-wing political influence machines that have destabilized democracy in North America, Europe and Australia.
Here are some key takeaways from The Times’s investigation into the Murdoch family and its role in the illiberal, right-wing political wave sweeping the globe.
Fox News has long exerted a gravitational pull on the Republican Party in the United States, where it most recently amplified the nativist revolt that has fueled the rise of the far right and the election of President Trump.
Murdoch’s newspaper The Sun spent years demonizing the European Union to its readers in Britain, where it helped lead the Brexit campaign that persuaded a slim majority of voters in a 2016 referendum to endorse pulling out of the bloc. Political havoc has reigned in Britain ever since.
And in Australia, where his hold over the media is most extensive, Mr Murdoch’s outlets pushed for the repeal of the country’s carbon tax and helped topple a series of prime ministers whose agenda he disliked, including Malcolm Turnbull last year.
At the centre of this upheaval sits the Murdoch family, a clan whose dysfunction has both shaped and mirrored the global tumult of recent years.
The New York Times explored those family dynamics and their impact on the Murdoch empire, which is on the cusp of succession as its 88-year-old patriarch prepares to hand power to the son whose politics most resemble his own: Lachlan Murdoch.
A key step in that succession has paradoxically been the partial dismemberment of the empire, which significantly shrunk last month when Mr Murdoch sold one of his companies, the film studio 21st Century Fox, to the Walt Disney Company for $71.3 billion.
The deal turned Mr Murdoch’s children into billionaires and left Lachlan in control of a powerful political weapon: a streamlined company, the Fox Corporation, whose most potent asset is Fox News.
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