Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch is rumored to have turned control of the company to its chief legal officer – who is also the godfather of his son – after abruptly moving back to Australia last month.
The New York Times published a profile on the chief legal officer, Viet Dinh, on Sunday, which examined the ‘sociable and relentless’ Republican lawyer’s role at Fox Corp.
Lachlan, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, left Los Angeles for Australia amid claims that Joe Biden’s election made things ‘rough’ for his family, given Fox Corp’s reputation as catering to the GOP.
Fox Corp has publicly insisted that Lachan is still very much in charge of the company and has even been keeping nocturnal hours from Sydney, working from midnight to 10am to stay on an American schedule.
However Fox Corp insiders told the Times that Lachlan’s move intensified Dinh’s power in the company.
Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch (left) is rumored to have turned control of the company to its chief legal officer Viet Dinh (right) after abruptly moving back to Australia last month
Dinh, 53, met Lachlan at the acclaimed Aspen Institute in 2003 after already having made a name for himself in politics as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy under President George W Bush.
Lachlan later offered Dinh a seat on the Fox Corp board and also asked him to be the godfather to his son as their relationship grew to extend beyond business.
The Times spoke to two former Fox employees and one current and one former Fox News employee familiar with Dinh’s role who described him as Lachlan’s ‘omnipresent right hand’.
The sources said that Dinh doesn’t run day-to-day programming but manages the company’s political operation and serves as a key voice in setting the corporate agenda.
A Fox Corp spokeswoman did not mince words when approached by the Times for comment about claims that Dinh ‘is exercising operational control over Fox’s business units’ – calling those claims ‘false and malicious’.
Dinh also dismissed the claims as ‘flat-out false’ in a recent interview with legal writer David Lat, whose article about the executive was titled: ‘Is Viet Dinh the Most Powerful Lawyer in America?’
‘To ascribe any role to me other than my day job, which is overseeing legal, regulatory and government affairs, is not only false, it would mean I have far more time than I actually do,’ Dinh told Lat.
‘Lachlan hired me for what is very much a full-time job, which I can barely manage to do with 24 hours in the day.’
However, the Times noted that Dinh’s salary – which came in at a whopping $24million in 2019 – suggests that he plays a major role in the company.
Lachlan Murdoch and his supermodel wife Sarah (pictured together in 2019) arrived in Australia on a private jet last month amid claims that Joe Biden’s election made things ‘rough’ for their family, given Fox Corp’s reputation as catering to the GOP
Fox Corp insiders told the New York Times that Lachlan’s move intensified Dinh’s power in the company (file photo)
Dinh came to the US from Vietnam as a refugee at the age of 10 and went on to attend Harvard for undergrad and law school.
After graduating in 1993 he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor before working with the Senate Whitewater Committee and then joining the Georgetown University Law Center faculty in 1996.
In 2001 he was tapped to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy – a role to which he was recruited by friends in the Bush administration.
Insiders said he played an influential role in the passing of the Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Dinh left government and opened a private law firm, Bancroft, in 2003 and further cemented his reputation as a ‘well connected workaholic’, according to former employees of his who spoke to the Times.
In 2018 Dinh stepped down from the Fox board to take over as chief legal officer and policy adviser.
The following year he played a key role in the $71billion sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney by bringing in a legal team to investigate whether top executives had been leaking information about the deal.
The studio’s president, Peter Rice, and the company’s general counsel, Gerson Zweifach, insisted that they didn’t do anything improper and warned that Dinh’s ‘paranoia’ could ruin the deal, according to the Times.
The newspaper said the conflict ‘offers a rare glimpse into the opaque power structure of Rupert Murdoch’s world’ – which has only grown murkier with Lachlan’s return to Australia.
Dinh (left) is seen testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee about a voting rights bill in 2007
Lachlan, his supermodel wife Sarah and their three children quietly arrived in Australia from Los Angeles last month without giving reason for their return.
And while no reason was given for the family’s return Down Under, a new report has claimed that it was the political climate in the US that helped make the decision for the family to leave LA in favour of their Sydney home.
On Saturday the Sydney Morning Herald reported that it was the political climate in the US that drove the decision.
The newspaper said the family ‘felt the cold winds of political change’ when Biden assumed power over Donald Trump, after the family-owned Fox News appeared to favor the Republican Party throughout the election campaign.
Things ‘got pretty rough’ for their children Kalan Alexander, 16, Aidan Patrick, 14, and daughter Aerin Elisabeth, 10, at school in their final weeks in Los Angeles, according to the paper.
A source said: ‘The school communities here are very close knit, and it extends into the wider families and the circles and parties they all go to. That Hollywood set is very pro-Democratic.
‘They are mostly big fundraisers for Biden, so you can imagine how well it went down when one of their classmates’ dads is at the helm of the biggest anti-Biden machine in the country.’
News Corp did not immediately return Daily Mail Australia’s requests for comment about the claims.
Lachlan Murdoch’s model wife Sarah appeared in high spirits as she attended the Sydney Royal Easter Show at the city’s Olympic Park on Friday