A new article in Vanity Fair reports that members of the Murdoch family have seen a therapist to discuss the thorny issue of succession at News Corp.
Before the phone hacking scandal dealt a potentially fatal blow to his chances, James Murdoch had been seen as the clear successor to father Rupert at the helm of News Corp. The December issue of Vanity Fair, which hits newsstands on Thursday, contains an article by Sarah Ellison about the Murdochs. Ellison writes that James and his siblings Lachlan, Prudence and Elisabeth -- all of whom have had their own tangled relationship to the company-- had been seeing a family counselor in order to unite them more as a team against Rupert.
The report adds more fuel to what has become, in some ways, the main story in the phone hacking crisis: the future of the ever-more imperiled James Murdoch, and his worsening relationship with his father.
James is due to testify before Parliament next Thursday, and will face an increasingly dire set of charges against him. A potentially damning series of private emails released by Parliament on Tuesday seem to contradict his insistence that he did not know about the widespread nature of phone hacking at the News of the World. Moreover, a vast majority of the shareholders not controlled by the Murdoch family voted against his continued presence on the News Corp. board.
Earlier in October, the New York Times reported that James and Rupert have clashed repeatedly over the direction of the company. In the Vanity Fair article, Ellison also writes that Elisabeth Murdoch urged Rupert to force James to take a leave of absence from News Corp. at the height of the phone hacking crisis. It is not the first report of the bad blood between the two Murdoch siblings. Ellison writes that Rupert initially told James he should take a leave, but then changed his mind.