In an exclusive interview with The New York Times, Kathryn Murdoch went public in discussing her thirteen years of behind-the-scenes climate activism, contradicting the stance of the conservative empire she had married into.
“There hasn’t been a Republican answer on climate change,” Ms. Murdoch said. “There’s just been denial and walking away from the problems. There needs to be [an answer].”
Ms. Murdoch is the daughter-in-law of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. Fox did not issue a response after requested.
Similarly to her husband, James Murdoch, Ms. Murdoch has begun distancing herself from the conservative news outlet. In a recent New Yorker article, he said there were some “views I really disagree with” on the major news network.
This was the first time Ms. Murdoch discussed her work in climate advocacy, spanning over a decade.
“I’m very comfortable staying in the background and continuing to work quietly,” she said to The Times. “[But] I’ve decided doing that means I’m not working hard enough, I’m not doing everything in my power to do.”
Ms. Murdoch says she was inspired after listening to Al Gore’s 2006 talk at the Fox retreat, where the former Vice President—who created the Inconvenient Truth, a documentary on global warming—emphasized the urgency of climate change.
“I decided to switch everything I was doing,” she said. “I wanted to be able to look my children in the eye and say, ‘I did everything I could.’”
As a self-defined “radical centrist,” Ms. Murdoch has taken major steps to bridge the partisan divide and raise money for Unite America, a nonpartisan organization dedicated towards “working to bridge the growing partisan divide and foster a more representative and functional government.” Murdoch said the her and her husband are “anchor funders” for the organization. Although she wouldn’t disclose the exact amount of money they were donating, she said they planned on investing “nine figures” for the group’s efforts.
“I’m not saying I have all the answers—I don’t,” she said. “But what I know and what I feel very strongly is that sitting around not doing anything is the wrong answer.”
Although Ms. Murdoch’s contributions to Unite America initially drew some skepticism given the notoriety of her last name. However, the founder of the organization, Charles Wheelan emphasized that she was “an important ambassador” in communicating to the affluent as a friend within that community that climate change was a serious issue that would soon become the burden of their children if action wasn’t taken.
In 2008, Ms. Murdoch’s work with climate advocacy began in the then newly created Clinton Climate Initiative. Later on, she obtained a spot on the board of the Environmental Defense Fund, and then created Quadrivium with her husband in 2014 to invest in issues dealing with “democracy, technology and society, scientific understanding, climate change, and ocean health.”
In openly announcing her commitment towards fighting climate change, Ms. Murdoch largely distinguished herself from the brand associated with her surname. Although such an action might seem inconsequential, there’s hope Ms. Murdoch’s public devotion towards tackling the climate crisis will influence more prominent figures to take further action as well.