A day after Lachlan Murdoch stepped up to take over as sole chairman of Fox Corp., the company is nominating two new members of its board of directors, according to a regulatory filing.
Exiting the board is Anne Dias, who expressed concerns over how the company’s right-leaning news channel Fox News covered former President Trump in the days after the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Dias, who runs an investment fund, and Jacques Nasser, a business executive and philanthropist, will finish their terms in November.
Peggy Johnson, chief executive of the technology company Magic Leap, and Tony Abbott, a former prime minister of Australia, are the nominees to replace Dias and Nasser. Shareholders will vote on the nominees at the company’s annual meeting to be held Nov. 17 on the Fox studio lot in Century City.
“I want to thank Anne Dias and Jacques Nasser for their years of service to the company and for their invaluable contributions to the Board and to Fox as a whole,” said Lachlan Murdoch in a statement. “I welcome Peggy Johnson and Tony Abbott’s nominations to the Board. They bring skills, experience and perspectives that will contribute to the Board and benefit Fox.”
Rupert Murdoch on Thursday announced his retirement as chairman of Fox and publishing company News Corp., which owns the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, after a 70-year career. Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s oldest son, will become sole chair of News Corp. and continue as executive chair and chief executive of Fox Corp.
Typically, board shuffles draw little public scrutiny, particularly with boards in family-controlled companies like Fox and News Corp. Rupert Murdoch and his family hold nearly 40% of the voting shares of Fox, giving them wide latitude to run the company as they see fit.
Dias, founder and chief executive of Aragon Global Management, urged Lachlan Murdoch to “take a stance” after the riot at the Capitol by Trump supporters who were upset about the results of the 2020 election. The violence led to the deaths of five people.
“Considering how important Fox News has been as a megaphone for Donald Trump, directly or indirectly, I believe the time has come for Fox News or for you, Lachlan, to take a stance,” Dias wrote in an email that was included in evidence for Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation case against Fox News. “It is an existential moment for the nation and for Fox News as a brand.”
Lachlan Murdoch shared the email with his father.
“Just tell her we have been talking internally and intensely along these lines, and Fox News, which called the election correctly, is pivoting as fast as possible,” Rupert Murdoch replied. “We have to lead our viewers, which is not as easy as it might seem.”
Fox Corp. agreed to pay a $787.5-million settlement to Dominion in April. The voting software company claimed it was damaged by Fox News repeatedly presenting President Trump’s false charges of fraud in the 2020 election as a way to appease its audience.
The company faces a similar suit from Smartmatic, another voting equipment firm that said it was defamed in Fox News’ coverage. That suit is scheduled to go to trial in 2025.
Dias, who did not reply to a request for comment, was not the only board member to raise issues with the Murdochs regarding Fox News.
Fox Corp. board member Paul Ryan, former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, repeatedly pleaded with the Murdochs to “stop spouting election lies” on Fox News after the 2020 election. Ryan was deposed in the Dominion case.
Ryan is nominated for another term on the board.
New York City’s pension fund is suing Fox Corp. and its board on grounds that the company neglected its duty to shareholders by allowing Fox News to broadcast falsehoods, making it vulnerable to defamation lawsuits.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.