“And I just felt increasingly uncomfortable with my position on the board having some disagreements over how certain decisions are being made. So it was actually not that hard a decision to remove myself and have a kind of cleaner slate.”
Murdoch said he felt he could achieve more on the outside of the corporate world.
“I think there’s only so much you can do if you’re not an executive, you’re on the board, you’re quite removed from a lot of the day-to-day decisions, obviously,” he said. “And if you’re uncomfortable with those decisions, you have to take stock of whether or not you want to be associated and can you change it or not. I decided that I could be much more effective outside.”
James claimed he pushed for a deal with Disney to help the company survive in a rapidly changing media landscape. He denied that he harbored ambitions to succeed Bob Iger in the Disney corporate lader.
“I decided pretty soon after we closed it that I didn’t want to stay on in the business. So if you think about it, I mean, your ego talks to you a little bit or somebody writes a story that says, ‘Oh, they don’t have a succession plan. James Murdoch can do X, Y and Z.’ And your ego goes, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ But then, you have to sit back and go, ‘That’s not me defining that. That’s some media journalist somewhere making up what they think success or failure is.’
“The idea, at my age, with a long career ahead of me, of going into a place where it’s a big corporate structure. You don’t really know what the future’s going to hold. And the other side is absolute self-determination and agency. It was a pretty simple choice. We never really even took talks very far at all about going to Disney because I informed them, because they were really trying to figure, ‘OK, what does the structure look like? Et cetera.’ I called Bob and said, ‘Look, you need to design that without me.’”