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New York Post Published Hunter Biden Report Amid Newsroom Doubts

The New York Post’s front-page article about Hunter Biden on Wednesday was written mostly by a staff reporter who refused to put his name on it, two Post employees said.

Bruce Golding, a reporter at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid since 2007, did not allow his byline to be used because he had concerns over the article’s credibility, the two Post employees said, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

Coming late in a heated presidential campaign, the article suggested that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had used his position to enrich his son Hunter when he was vice president. The Post based the story on photos and documents the paper said it had taken from the hard drive of a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden.

Many Post staff members questioned whether the paper had done enough to verify the authenticity of the hard drive’s contents, said five people with knowledge of the tabloid’s inner workings. Staff members also had concerns about the reliability of its sources and its timing, the people said.

The article named two sources: Stephen K. Bannon, the former adviser to President Trump now facing federal fraud charges, who was said to have made the paper aware of the hard drive last month; and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, who was said to have given the paper “a copy” of the hard drive on Oct. 11.

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Mr. Giuliani said he chose The Post because “either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out.”

Top editors met on Oct. 11 to discuss how to use the material provided by Mr. Giuliani. The group included the tabloid veteran Colin Allan, known as Col; Stephen Lynch, The Post’s editor in chief; and Michelle Gotthelf, the digital editor in chief, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting. Mr. Allan, who was The Post’s editor in chief from 2001 to 2016 and returned last year as an adviser, urged his colleagues to move quickly, the person said.

As deadline approached, editors pressed staff members to add their bylines to the story — and at least one aside from Mr. Golding refused, two Post journalists said. A Post spokeswoman had no comment on how the article was written or edited.

Headlined “BIDEN SECRET E-MAILS,” the article appeared Wednesday with two bylines: Emma-Jo Morris, a deputy politics editor who joined the paper after four years at the Murdoch-owned Fox News, and Gabrielle Fonrouge, a Post reporter since 2014.

Ms. Morris did not have a bylined article in The Post before Wednesday, a search of its website showed. She arrived at the tabloid in April after working as an associate producer on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, according to her LinkedIn profile. Her Instagram account, which was set to private on Wednesday, included photos of her posing with the former Trump administration members Mr. Bannon and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as well as Roger J. Stone Jr., a friend and former campaign adviser to Mr. Trump. (In July, the president commuted the sentence of Mr. Stone on seven felonies.)

Ms. Fonrouge had little to do with the reporting or writing of the article, said three people with knowledge of how it was prepared. She learned that her byline was on the story only after it was published, the people said.

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James Murdoch Resigns From News Corp

James Murdoch wants the world to know he is out of the family business.

Once considered a potential successor to Rupert Murdoch, Mr. Murdoch on Friday resigned from the board of the newspaper publisher News Corp, severing his last corporate tie to his father’s global media empire.

“My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions,” Mr. Murdoch, 47, wrote in his resignation letter, which News Corp disclosed in a filing shortly after the close of business on Friday.

The two sides began discussing Mr. Murdoch’s departure from the News Corp board earlier this year, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

But his terse resignation note belied the behind-the-scenes drama that has brought Mr. Murdoch to this point in his life and career. And it widened the schism that has emerged between James and his 89-year-old father and his older brother, Lachlan, once a dynastic triumvirate that for years held sweeping influence over the world’s cultural and political affairs.

A political outlier in his conservative-leaning family, James Murdoch has sought to reinvent himself as an independent investor with a focus on causes more closely associated with liberals, like environmentalism, which he and his wife, Kathryn Murdoch, have long championed.

He has also taken public stands against President Trump, who has counted Fox News, a prime Murdoch asset, among his closest media allies.

Weeks ago, James and his wife jointly contributed more than $1 million to a fund-raising committee for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. And in February, as wildfires raged across Australia — his father’s birthplace — Mr. Murdoch issued a rebuke of his own family’s media properties, criticizing how Murdoch publications have covered climate change.

Such public gestures came after a period when James Murdoch’s hopes of succeeding his father at the helm of a worldwide empire had been all but extinguished.

He had already departed the Fox Corporation, the family’s television and entertainment arm, which was mostly dismantled after his family transferred many of its assets to The Walt Disney Company in a blockbuster sale that was completed last year.

His last formal link to the family business was through News Corp, which publishes influential broadsheets like The Wall Street Journal as well as powerful tabloids, including The Sun of London and The New York Post. The company also oversees several other papers in Britain and publications in Australia.

The London-born, Harvard-educated Mr. Murdoch remains a beneficiary of his family’s trust, meaning he will continue to financially benefit from the profits of Rupert Murdoch’s news and information assets.

And although his resignation letter cited “certain editorial content,” Mr. Murdoch did not speak specifically about Fox News, the hugely profitable cable channel where prime-time hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham openly cheerlead for Mr. Trump.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Murdoch declined to comment further on the reasons for his departure, saying the letter “speaks for itself.”

Rupert, who holds the title of executive chairman at News Corp, and Lachlan Murdoch, the co-chairman, said in a joint statement on Friday: “We’re grateful to James for his many years of service to the company. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

James Murdoch’s drift from his family began in earnest during the early part of the Trump era, around the time Lachlan was consolidating power and becoming seen more widely as their father’s preferred successor.

There had been discussions about James Murdoch taking a powerful new role at Disney after the completion of the Fox sale, but those talks came to nothing. His 48-year-old brother was named the executive chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Corporation, which includes Fox News, Fox Business and the Fox sports networks.

James Murdoch was the chief executive of 21st Century Fox from 2015 until it was sold to Disney, and he netted $2 billion from the sale. He opened his own investment firm and named it Lupa Systems. (In Roman mythology, Lupa is the wolf goddess who nurtured Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers who became the founders of Rome.)

The firm specializes in early stage start-ups and has focused on sustainability projects, extending efforts that Mr. Murdoch made at Sky, the European satellite giant that was formerly part of the Murdoch empire, and his financial support of the National Geographic Society’s endowment fund.

Mr. Murdoch has also taken a starkly different tack with his media investments. In October, he bought a small stake in Vice Media, the irreverent — and decidedly liberal — news brand focused on youth and entertainment. He has been less interested in traditional media businesses.

In August, Mr. Murdoch led a consortium of investors to buy a controlling stake in Tribeca Enterprises, which owns the Tribeca Film Festival as well as a production studio. He also put money into Artists, Writers & Artisans, a new comics publisher founded by former Marvel executives.

In 2011, Mr. Murdoch was a chief figure in the phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of News of the World, one of the Murdochs’ flagship properties, and strained his relationship with his father. At the time, Mr. Murdoch was in charge of the family’s holdings across Europe, including the British newspapers that were behind the hacks.

Called before a Parliamentary committee investigating the matter, he was confronted with an email that appeared to show his knowledge of the hacking; Mr. Murdoch said he had not read the entire email chain. The committee chided James and his father for “willful blindness” about the company’s behavior.

The scandal dinged Mr. Murdoch’s credibility in London, and he soon relocated to New York to help run his father’s businesses there, where he focused on the Fox television empire and made investments in digital ad technology.

This latest twist in the Murdoch saga is likely to show up in the myriad pop culture products that depict the family’s corporate and personal dramas. The 2019 film “Bombshell” portrayed the Murdoch brothers pushing out Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News, after revelations of sexual harassment and abuse at the network. In Britain, a new BBC documentary series, “The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty,” has offered a searing review of the family’s exploits.

Perhaps best known is the HBO series “Succession,” which chronicles a Murdoch-like media family led by an aging patriarch who pits his children against one another, sometimes in cruel ways. Asked in an email exchange last year if he was a fan of the show, James Murdoch pleaded ignorance.

“I’ve never watched it,” he wrote.

Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting.

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Advertisers Are Fleeing Tucker Carlson. Fox News Viewers Have Stayed.

In recent weeks, Tucker Carlson, the conservative Fox News host, has challenged the Black Lives Matter movement, dismissed demonstrators as “criminal mobs,” accused a Texas police chief of “sounding more like a therapist than a cop” and mocked a CNN children’s special about racism that featured Elmo, the “Sesame Street” puppet.

His comments have generated a harsh backlash. Critics have called Mr. Carlson’s on-air monologues incendiary and accused him of making racist remarks. Major advertisers, including the Walt Disney Company and Sandals, the vacation resorts, have fled, requesting that Fox News remove their ads from Mr. Carlson’s 8 p.m. hour.

Viewers, however, are tuning in.

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” was seen by 4.2 million people on Monday, making it the most-watched television program in the country that night, ahead of entertainment fare on the major networks. His show was the highest rated on Fox News last week, and he has pulled ahead of Sean Hannity, the network’s usual ratings leader, in total viewers for June.

Fox News’s stars, including Mr. Carlson, are no stranger to advertising boycotts and denunciations from the left. But at a moment of deep national turmoil, prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, the response to Mr. Carlson offers another sign of the nation’s deep political divide. Major American brands have recoiled from his program — and celebrities like Padma Lakshmi have accused him of spreading “race-baiting filth” — even as many viewers remain enthusiastic.

Mr. Carlson, a conservative pundit who previously hosted shows on CNN and MSNBC, has seized on the high Nielsen numbers as a sign that his message — which warns about censorship from the left, and depicts the country’s unrest as ominous and violent — is resonating.

“You are not alone,” Mr. Carlson told viewers on Tuesday, noting that his Monday program had ranked first among “cable and broadcast news, entertainment and sports.”

“You may feel like you are,” he continued. “Suddenly, your opinions qualify as crimes. Dare to say what you think at work and you will be fired in the middle of a recession. Write what you think online and you will be silenced by the big tech companies.”

But his remarks have not sat easily with Mr. Carlson’s advertisers, including companies like Papa John’s, Poshmark, Angie’s List and the office furniture brand Vari, all of which have distanced themselves from “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” T-Mobile announced its defection in a memorable Twitter post from Mike Sievert, the company’s chief executive, who wrote: “Bye-bye, Tucker Carlson!”

On Thursday, the fitness equipment company NordicTrack also said it would no longer advertise on Mr. Carlson’s program.

“The show has almost no big-name advertisers left right now,” Kara Alaimo, a public-relations expert who teaches at Hofstra University, said in an interview. “This is just not an issue you want to be on the wrong side of, if you’re a mainstream brand.”

Fox News has said brands removed from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” typically have their ads run on other programs, and the network retains the revenue. Fox News also earns a significant portion of its income from subscription fees paid by cable providers, rather than spending by individual advertisers.

Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, who control Fox News, are usually reluctant to make changes at the network because of outside pressure. Last week, Mr. Carlson acknowledged his superiors’ support: “We work for one of the last brave companies in America, and they’re not intimidated. We’re grateful for that.”

Since demonstrations began, Mr. Carlson has adopted a hard-edge approach, encouraging President Trump to be more harsh, not less, in cracking down on protesters. The ad boycott intensified after Mr. Carlson, on June 8, said the unrest “is definitely not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you.” (Fox News said the pronoun “they” referred to liberal leaders, not protesters.)

This week, Mr. Carlson criticized police officials in Fort Worth for dropping charges for rioting. The police responded by saying that more serious criminal charges had not been dropped, but Mr. Carlson repeated his criticism, calling the department’s actions “shameful.”

Though he enjoys Fox News’s backing, Mr. Carlson, a longtime Washington resident, may be on the cusp of leaving his liberal-leaning hometown. He recently put his Washington home up for sale, and has spent much of the quarantine at his houses in Florida and Maine. Through a spokeswoman, the host declined to comment about his plans.

On Wednesday, Mr. Carlson yielded the nightly ratings crown to Mr. Hannity, who attracted 4.5 million viewers for his telephone interview with Mr. Trump. Across all of television, Mr. Hannity enjoyed the largest audience. Mr. Carlson was in second place, not far behind.