Rupert Murdoch announced in September that he would step down as chairman of Fox Corp and News Corp.
The Australian’s impact on the media landscape since the 1950s has had far-reaching and damaging consequences.
Speaking to the Guardian, climate scientist at Australian National University Joëlle Gergis said: “It’s hard to think of another person who has single-handedly done more to muddy the public’s understanding of climate change.”
Other scientists did not give Murdoch particularly glowing reviews upon the news of his decision to hand over control of the media empire to his son, Lachlan.
Climate scientist and University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Mann added, per the Guardian: “He has wielded his global media empire as a cudgel to sow confusion and doubt about the science and the solutions. He will go down in history as one of the greatest climate villains.”
Murdoch’s role in climate science denial is nothing new. In 2013, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism studied 602 articles across 10 newspapers in Australia and found that 32% either dismissed or questioned whether human activity was responsible for global heating.
The findings were summarized by the Guardian, and the contribution of Murdoch’s News Corp to that figure was shocking.
The Guardian said that 97% of comment pieces in the Herald Sun, under Murdoch’s media empire, published climate-skeptic views. Syndicated columnist Andrew Bolt was responsible for a number of these articles, with similar work also published in The Advertiser, NT News, and Daily Telegraph.
Murdoch was also criticized for inaccurate statements regarding climate science in the past; a 2014 Sky News interview contained misguided comments, as reported by the Guardian.
The Conversation has detailed several troubling or inaccurate stories News Corp pushed in Australia as part of a Mission Zero 2050 campaign, which was supposed to encourage the country to move toward a net-zero future.
There were articles about how renewable sources are an unreliable source of power, while another praised Australia’s coal industry as cleaner than coal industries in most other countries.
“He’s a true villain on a global scale,” one Redditor said of Murdoch when commenting on the Guardian’s unflattering review of his climate impact during his career.
“This dude will be responsible for the deaths of millions,” added another.
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