As News Corp. investors prepare to decide whether to re-elect the company's board, tensions between Rupert Murdoch and his son James are being laid bare.
A New York Times story on Wednesday reported that the elder and younger Murdochs have clashed over the direction of News Corp., with Rupert repeatedly asserting his power over his son. "You're coming back to New York, or you're out," he reportedly said at one point, ordering James to abandon his position in London (something that has not yet happened).
The story is just the latest in a long line of signs that James Murdoch's star has dimmed within News Corp. Perhaps no one within the company and the Murdoch family has been as battered by the ongoing phone hacking scandal. James has been caught up in a maze of claims and counterclaims about what he knew and when he knew it, with former senior editors within News Corp. insisting that he was fully aware of the scale of criminality within the company, and James insisting that he was not.
Once seen as the natural successor to his father, the odds of James taking the reins of News Corp. have only grown longer. In August, Rupert signaled for the first time that, should something happen to him, COO Chase Carey would take over the company, at least in the short term.
James has also found himself at odds with his siblings, who have become collateral damage in the family scandal. The Guardian reported that there was a "big family row" in July, with sister Elisabeth -- who was forced to abandon her plans to take a seat on the News Corp. board -- essentially washing her hands of the whole affair.
Now, major News Corp. shareholders are signalling that they are prepared to vote both Murdochs off the company board.