Joseph Azam joined Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in 2015. He says he loved working there. But after the presidential election, he noticed a disturbing “change in tone.”
“I was fine with working with and for people who had different values and opinions than I did, but I noticed a significant shift in the ferociousness and, frankly, in the relationship with facts, you know, particularly on the Fox side,” Azam said.
As President Donald Trump took office, “it became very profitable to kind of fall in line with an anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim rhetoric,” he said. “And I was affected by that.”
Azam, an Afghan-American immigrant, eventually had enough. He resigned in late 2017. He recounted the ups and downs of working for the Murdoch media empire on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.
Azam was a senior vice president in the legal department at News Corp, the half of Murdoch’s house that includes the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. Fox News is part of the other half. But both sides came together in the New York City tower where Azam worked. He said he interacted with Fox hosts in the elevators, for example, “so I was exposed to it every day.”
He said the offensive nature of some of Fox’s talk shows was “a constant topic of conversation for us.”
“I’m comfortable saying I wasn’t the only one who was troubled,” he added.
Troubled by what exactly? “By the dehumanization taking place in some of the coverage and the opinion shows” and by “a lack of decency.”
News Corp declined to comment on Azam.
It is well known that Murdoch’s companies employ many, many people who don’t share the family’s conservative ideology. But it is rare to hear from a former executive like this.
Azam left the building quietly when he resigned in late 2017. But he has been increasingly vocal on Twitter, commenting at one point last month that “I am so glad not to be walking into work in that building any more.”
He spoke out publicly in an interview with NPR’s David Folkenflik last month. In that interview, and again on Sunday, he cited recent acts of violence by extremists as a motivating factor.
“After the murder of an Afghan-American in Indiana, after Christchurch, after Tree of Life, it became really important, you know, to think about saying something and engaging more in the discourse that was taking place publicly,” he said.
He named Tucker Carlson’s weekday show and Jeanine Pirro’s Saturday show as examples of especially objectionable content.
Both are also among the best-rated shows on Fox News.
Despite his criticism of the content, Azam said he very much enjoyed working at News Corp: “There were a lot of inherently smart, hard-working decent people there.” He said it’s a “very diverse company” — and that “one of the things that I was hoping to accomplish by coming out is to say ‘We’re here, too.’”