President Trump’s praise for the “very fine people” who rallied with white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend put the business community in an awkward spot. Many CEOs decided their support for President Trump ended at aligning with neo-Nazis, and on Thursday a surprising name was added to that list: James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox and son of Trump ally Rupert Murdoch.
In an email addressed to “friends,” Murdoch explained that the violence in Charlottesville, and the president’s response, inspired him to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League:
I’m writing to you in a personal capacity, as a concerned citizen and a father. It has not been my habit to widely offer running commentary on current affairs, nor to presume to weigh in on the events of a given day save those that might be of particular or specific concern to 21CF and my colleagues. But what we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people.
These events remind us all why vigilance against hate and bigotry is an eternal obligation — a necessary discipline for the preservation of our way of life and our ideals. The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob. I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.
Murdoch goes on to note, “Diverse storytellers, and stories, can make a difference,” and diversity is key to his business. He mentions two examples of works he’s proud to say his company had a hand in: 12 Years a Slave and He Named Me Malala. 21st Century Fox is also the parent company of Fox News, which has been working hard to normalize Trump’s response to Charlottesville.
James and his wife, Kathryn, who worked for the Clinton Climate Initiative, are said to be embarrassed by aspects of Fox News. James and his brother Lachlan were reportedly behind the ouster of Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes, and there’s been speculation that they might change the network’s tone as they assume control from their father.