The secrets of the Murdochs, the most powerful media family in the world 1:51

New York (CNN) -- Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's eldest son, was chosen to take the reins of his father's vast media empire, ending years of rampant speculation and thinly veiled fraternal enmities.

The decision, announced Thursday, makes Lachlan, 52, the sole chairman of Fox News' parent company, Fox Corporation, and News Corporation, which owns The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and other newspapers.

Although his closest siblings, Elisabeth and James, had previously been seen as claimants to the throne, Lachlan's rise was virtually guaranteed in recent years. In tune with his father, Lachlan has co-chaired Fox and News corporations, and was named CEO of Fox News in 2019.

Rupert Murdoch, 92, one of the most influential media moguls of the modern era, will remain on boards as chairman emeritus.

"We appreciate his vision, his pioneering spirit, his steadfast determination and the enduring legacy he leaves to the companies he founded and the countless people he has impacted," Lachlan said in a statement Thursday.

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Succession drama

Rupert Murdoch grew his company from relatively modest roots, inheriting an Australian newspaper business from his father in 1952. Over the next seven decades, Murdoch made strong inroads into the British and American markets, buying newspapers, launching the Fox network, acquiring the 20th Century Fox film studio, and revolutionizing the cable news landscape with the debut of Fox News in 1996.


With his second wife, Rupert had three children: Elisabeth, Lachlan and James.

The two brothers, just 15 months apart, were deeply competitive as children, and over the years swapped roles of "heir apparent and spiteful son," according to a 2019 New York Times Magazine article about the family.

"It was no secret to those close to the family that Murdoch had always favored Lachlan," according to the magazine.

Planning for the succession of his media colossus seemed to begin in earnest in 2015, when Rupert named Lachlan and James co-chairs of 21st Century Fox.

But in 2020, James, who supported Joe Biden's 2020 campaign and has donated to Democratic-leaning causes, drastically broke with the company, alleging "disagreements over certain editorial content," among other reasons.

Elisabeth, who has been in and out of the family business while building her own career as a television producer, often felt overshadowed by her siblings, according to a 2012 profile in the New Yorker. A family friend quoted in the profile compared Elisabeth to Cordelia, the devoted daughter of Shakespeare's King Lear.

"She loves her father," the friend told the magazine, "but he's the wrong sex."

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Lachlan's relay

Lachlan has been at the helm of Fox News since 2019, overseeing an era of rampant misinformation about the 2020 election and the covid-19 pandemic.

While he has privately criticized Trump, people familiar with the matter told CNN last year, Rupert told employees Thursday that Lachlan will maintain the network's right-wing editorial bent.

"My father believed strongly in freedom, and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause," Rupert said in a memo to staff.

Ultimately, Lachlan approved Fox's extraordinary decision not to broadcast live the first hearings held by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, bombing of the U.S. Capitol. Instead, the network chose to air comments on the audience of right-wing hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.

At the time those hearings aired, Lachlan and his wife, Sarah, were relaxing on their $30 million yacht in Sydney Harbour, according to a 2022 biography by Australian journalist Paddy Manning.

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