Lachlan Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of Fox, privately expressed support to Tucker Carlson after the Fox News host’s anti-immigration comments prompted a backlash that spurred a sizable advertiser boycott late last year.
That is according to The New York Times Magazine, which on Wednesday published a lengthy three-part story examining the media empire and family dynasty of Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan’s father.
The anecdote is representative of a broader theme in the piece published by The Times: Lachlan preferred a more nationalist and populist version of Fox News, supporting hosts like Carlson, while his brother James Murdoch preferred a toned-down, more establishment version of the network.
The Times cited two sources, whom it did not name, to report that Lachlan had sent personal text messages of support to Carlson amid the controversy over Carlson’s comments.
Carlson had faced significant criticism in December when he said on his show that mass immigration “makes our country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided.”
More than a dozen companies announced at the time that they had either pulled or suspended advertising on Carlson’s show over the immigration comments.
Neither a Fox spokesperson nor a Fox News spokesperson responded to a request for comment Wednesday morning about Lachlan’s text messages.
The Times reported that the difference in opinion between Lachlan and James became more acute after Rupert nearly died last year following a fall on Lachlan’s yacht, leaving control of his media empire a more pressing matter.
According to The Times, James viewed part of Fox News as a political weapon with no standards, and had grown troubled by it. After the network’s longtime head, Roger Ailes, was forced out of the company over sexual assault allegations, which he denied, James wanted to bring in CBS News President David Rhodes, a former Fox News executive, to run the ship, The Times reported.
But the idea was rejected by both Lachlan and Rupert, according to The Times. Lachlan, The Times reported, “considered the idea of meddling with such an important profit driver a form of madness.”
Ultimately, following a years-long rivalry between the two Murdoch brothers, Lachlan won control of Fox — albeit a much slimmer version of the company after Rupert sold much of it to Disney in a deal that was completed in March.
Lachlan’s first initiative, according to The Times, was Fox Nation, the online service that provides an on-demand catalog of shows catering to Fox News’ most loyal and partisan following. The Times reported that Lachlan had a long-term vision of taking Fox Nation overseas.
As illustrated by his support for Carlson, Lachlan has backed Fox News’ most bombastic talent.
According to The Times, at a Vanity Fair dinner, Kathryn Murdoch, wife to James, introduced former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett to Lachlan.
“Do you feel proud of what’s happening between 8 and 11 every night?” Lovett asked, according to The Times. “You think this is good for the world?”
Lachlan reportedly replied, “Yeah, I think they’re doing a great job.”