The change in leadership comes amid much speculation that Rupert’s three children from his second wife – Elisabeth, 55, Lachlan, 52, and James, 50 – each vied for the opportunity to control the media empire, mirroring the critically acclaimed HBO drama series, Succession.
In fact, the Murdoch family has served as inspiration behind the award-winning show, which came to an end this year after four seasons. While the “eldest boy” Kendall Roy lost out on becoming CEO of the fictional Waystar Royco, his real-life counterpart Lachlan has now been named his father’s successor.
In April 2023, a cover story from Vanity Fair claimed that Rupert believed a “Darwinian struggle” would produce the most capable successor to his media empire. “He pitted his kids against each other their entire lives. It’s sad,” a person close to the family told the outlet. The source described Lachlan as “the golden child” of the family, partly because he shared his father’s right-wing politics. His eldest daughter, Elisabeth, quit the family business in 2000, while James climbed the ranks after his brother Lachlan moved to Australia, following an alleged disagreement with Fox News chief Roger Ailes and chief operating officer Peter Chernin.
However, Rupert was apparently known for avoiding the topic of naming an heir apparent, as he was once reported by the Irish Times as saying: “Let the chips fall where they will.”
According to Vanity Fair, the decision for Lachlan to succeed their father was likely decided by his two siblings, all of whom sit on the company’s board of trustees. Not to mention, Rupert is also the father to daughter Prudence, 65, from his first marriage to Patricia Booker; and daughters Grace, 22, and Chloe, 20, from his third marriage to Wendi Deng Murdoch.
As Lachlan takes over as sole chairman of both Fox News and News Corp, where does that leave everyone else?
From Lachlan to Elisabeth, this is a who’s who of Rupert Murdoch’s family.
Lachlan was born on 8 September 1971 in London. He studied philosophy at Princeton University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1994.
His father seemingly began training Lachlan to become his heir as early as 1989, when Lachlan was just 18 years old. He interned in Australia for three months at the Daily Mirror, before being appointed general manager of Queensland Newspapers at age 22. Lachlan was later named an executive of News Limited in 1995, executive director of News Corp in 1996, and deputy chief operating officer in 2000.
Lachlan was appointed to the News Corp board in 1996, becoming deputy chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox.
However, he abruptly resigned as an executive at News Corp in July 2005, amid speculation of a rift with Roger Ailes, the disgraced chairman and CEO of Fox News, Fox Television Stations and 20th Television. Lachlan returned as non-executive co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox in 2014 and was named executive chairman of 21st Century Fox one year later. After 21st Century Fox was acquired by Disney in March 2019, Lachlan was named chairman and CEO of the Fox Corporation.
He married British-born Australian model and actor, Sarah Murdoch née O’Hare, in 1999. They share three children: sons Kalan Alexander, 19, and Aidan Patrick, 17, and daughter Aerin Elisabeth, 13.
Lachlan moved his family back to Australia in March 2021, according to Vanity Fair.
James is Rupert’s second son and the youngest of his three children with his second wife, Anna Murdoch – whom Rupert was married to from 1967 to 1999. Speaking to Vanity Fair, a former News Corp executive described James as “a lone wolf” whose liberal political views are the exact opposite of his father’s and brother’s right-leaning views.
He was born on 13 December 1972 in London, and was regarded early on as the brightest of the Murdoch children, but was also something of a rebel. He began his career at 15 as an intern at the Sydney Mirror, but made headlines when he was photographed asleep on a sofa at a press conference.
James went on to study film and history at Harvard University, where he also worked on the school’s satirical magazine, the Harvard Lampoon. He dropped out of Harvard in 1995 to start an independent hip hop record label, Rawkus Records, with friends. The company was bought by News Corp in 1998.
He joined the family business that same year, becoming head of News Corp’s music division. James is credited with sparking his father’s interest in the internet. In May 2000, James was appointed chairman and chief executive of News Corp’s failing Asian satellite service, Star Television, and he moved to Hong Kong.
James was named CEO of British Sky Broadcasting group in 2003, of which News Corp owned a controlling minority stake. The move was controversial, as many believed James was too young and inexperienced to run the UK media company.