For years, Rupert Murdoch has been viewed as an all-powerful media mogul. But Vanity Fair special correspondent Gabriel Sherman, who launched his own investigation into the Murdoch family and Fox News, argues the 92-year-old is actually a “very old man” whose health has been “failing for a very long time.” And on “CNN This Morning” Thursday, co-host Don Lemon reported that “there are signs” that HBO’s hit drama “Succession” “has been getting under his skin.”
“I think now we’re just catching up to the fact that he’s a shell of what he used to be,” Sherman told Lemon, breaking down his viral deep-dive on the media mogul and his family, published Wednesday via Vanity Fair.
Sherman argued that Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News has been a direct result of Murdoch’s “diminished leadership.”
“There has really been this vacuum at the top of the company and it allowed all of these Dominion falsehoods and these lies to get onto the air on Fox, because they put ratings above all else,” he explained. “And there was really no adult in the room to say we can get the ratings now, but there’ll be long-term consequences later.”
Dominion is asking for $1.6 billion in damages for what it says are defamatory statements about its voting machines in multiple reports, guest segments and host commentary. Fox has maintained it was merely reporting the news, and has dug in its heels on what could be a landmark First Amendment case.
Sherman believes that, regardless of the financial impact, the Dominion suit is an “existential crisis” for the network because Fox’s internal communications have been exposed.
“They were lying to their audience in private, they said Trump was crazy and then on the air for 24 hours a day they would say he’s the greatest thing ever,” Sherman noted. “That to me is one of the lasting impacts of this trial, regardless of the outcome.”
Lemon proceeded to shift the conversation to the family’s real-life succession battle, and asked Sherman if he believes that James Murdoch, a critic of Rupert, Lachlan and Fox News’ politics, could change the network’s trajectory by taking his father’s place. According to Sherman’s report, Lachlan told Rupert that James was leaking stories to the writers of HBO’s acclaimed drama.
“That would depend on him winning the support of his two sisters because you need three out of the four siblings to align to change leadership and I think there’s really a shadow war going on behind the scenes for that,” Sherman said.
After interviewing dozens of people, Sherman wrote that he was “struck by how sad all the Murdochs seem.”
“All the money, all that power and it’s destroyed a family,” he concluded the CNN interview. “I think there’s sort of a lesson for everyone there.”
Watch the full segment in the video above.