Australia wildfires: James Murdoch ‘frustrated and disappointed’ by - and News Corp coverage of crisis

Australia wildfires: James Murdoch ‘frustrated and disappointed’ by Fox and News Corp coverage of crisis


One of Rupert Murdoch’s sons has lashed out at the coverage of Australia‘s wildfires in news media owned by his father’s companies.

In an extraordinary statement hitting out at climate change denialism, James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn criticised both News Corp and Fox News.

“Kathryn and James’ views on climate are well established, and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” the couple’s spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

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“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary.” 

Rupert Murdoch and his elder son Lachlan chair both News Corp and Fox Corporation. Lachlan is also chief executive of the latter company, parent to the right-leaning Fox News Channel beloved by Donald Trump.

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rightCreated with Sketch.

It comes just days after a News Corp employee quit over the firm’s coverage of climate change and the devastating wildfires, writing in an all-staff email that it had instituted a “misinformation campaign”.

The company’s outlets had “tried to divert attention away from the real issue which is climate change to rather focus on arson”, finance manager Emily Townsend claimed, as she urged bosses to reconsider how information was published in The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun.

News Corp’s executive chairman, Michael Miller, said he stood by its coverage of the bush blazes that have killed 28 people and hundreds of millions of animals.

Humane Society International workers have told of “animal bodies everywhere” in the wake of the fires. “I can barely describe it,” said one. “In some places you can’t walk 10 metres without coming across another carcass.”

The effects are so severe that Nasa said it believed smoke created by the fires could eventually pass all the way around the planet, coming back to blight Australia once again. The detritus being pumped into the atmosphere has caused breathing problems for players at the Australian Open qualifying event, leading one to retire after collapsing during a coughing fit.

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On Tuesday, the UK’s Met Office warned that the situation in Australia could become the world’s new normal if global temperatures continue to rise.

A review of 57 scientific studies published in the last seven years found that climate change had led to an increase in the frequency and severity so-called ”fire weather”, meaning periods with a high risk of fire owing to a combination of hotter temperatures, low humidity, low rainfall and strong winds.

The World Meteorological Organisation warned that warming could hit between 3C and 5C over pre-industrial levels this century, if nothing is done.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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