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Fox Chiefs on Trump Travel Ban: ‘Immigration Is an Essential Part of America’s Strength’

Variety logo Variety 1/31/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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21st Century Fox leaders James Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch have joined the chorus of corporate leaders weighing in on President Trump’s controversial travel ban affecting Syrian refugees and citizens of six other Middle Eastern nations.

James Murdoch, 21st Century Fox CEO, and Lachlan Murdoch, the conglom’s non-executive chairman, issued a memo Monday acknowledging the challenges for some Fox employees raised by the executive order signed on Friday by Trump. The note to staffers hailed the contributions of immigrants to the empire built by their Australian-born father, Rupert Murdoch, but it stopped short of criticizing Trump or the policy itself.

“21CF is a global company, proudly headquartered in the U.S., founded by – and comprising at all levels of the business – immigrants,” the Murdoch brothers wrote. “We deeply value diversity and believe immigration is an essential part of America’s strength. Moreover, as a company that is driven by creativity and innovation, we recognize the unique perspective offered by our many people who came to the U.S. in search of the opportunity for unfettered self-expression.”

The memo stated that Fox was ready to aid employees affected by the 90-day travel ban. “We are providing them with a range of support, including legal advice and assistance,” the memo said.

The decision by the next-generation Murdoch leaders of Fox to address the controversy over the ban stands in contrast to recent reports that their father has been in close contact with Trump since his election.

The evolution of Fox News Channel under the Murdoch sons has been the subject of much speculation in recent months since the abrupt ouster in July of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, amid a cascade of sexual harassment allegations by female employees — allegations that have been strongly denied by Ailes. Last fall, 21st Century Fox paid out a $20 million settlement to former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who brought a lawsuit against Ailes.

The onset of the post-Ailes chapter for Fox News has fueled speculation that the cable news powerhouse could move to a more centrist position after 20 years of serving as the voice of conservatism with its opinion-focused primetime lineup. That would mark a big shift at a time when the U.S. appears to be more polarized than ever by Trump’s early policy moves.

The travel ban enacted last week affects citizens of Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia. Fox has TV channels and other business interests in Africa and the Middle East, though it unclear how many 21st Century Fox employees hail from those countries.

The implementation of the ban sparked detainment efforts in airports across the country, as well as outrage and protests in major cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Sunday’s live Screen Actors Guild Awards telecast was overrun with vociferous condemnations of the policy from prominent Hollywood stars.

“We will continue to monitor developments in what is still a fluid situation. We will keep you informed as we learn more,” the Murdochs wrote. “In the meantime, please know that the well-being of our colleagues is our top priority.”

(Pictured: Lachlan, Rupert and James Murdoch)

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