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James Murdoch on Charlottesville: ‘I think a lot of people felt sick in the country that week’

That’s the CEO of the company that owns Fox News.

21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch onstage Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for National Geographic

Last year, James Murdoch pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League after President Trump’s response to the violence that erupted amid protests in Charlottesville, Va.

“I think a lot of people felt sick in the country that week,” Murdoch, the head of 21st Century Fox, said onstage at Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

In a blunt note to friends last year, Murdoch wrote: “The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob. I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis.”

“I got some feedback internally, a lot of it positive, actually,” he told Recode Executive Editor Peter Kafka at the conference.

That’s a remarkable admission, given that his company also owns Fox News, which media critics have blasted for both feeding Trump’s agenda and recycling his talking points.

Murdoch went on to say at the conference: “It’s super important to remember what all that means. ... Our Holocaust survivors are dwindling as time goes on, and it’s super important to record their stories. ... I think it’s important to reach out and do more of the same, and I hope everyone does more of it.”

At the same time, he stopped short of impugning Fox News, underscoring the full complement of voices and creative works put out by the parent company as a whole, which includes National Geographic and films like “Deadpool 2.”

“You have to look at the whole output as well,” he said. “In a really diverse company, we have a lot of output ... they’re all different and have different voices and within them you have a lot of diversity.”

Separately, Fox News has been rocked by a sexual harassment scandal that saw the departure of its biggest star Bill O’Reilly and other top executives at the network. The #MeToo movement has further exposed leading news figures at other networks, such as NBC’s Matt Lauer.

“You look at all this crazy stuff in news and the entertainment industry, and it seems no one can keep their pants on. It’s unbelievable,” he said.

But Murdoch is hopeful the remedies his company has undertaken at Fox News has led to lasting change.

“God, if they don’t know ... if somebody doesn’t know now at Fox News that nothing is going to protect them if they behave that way, that would be really incredible to me.”

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