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Award Ceremony Canceled After Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Family Denounces Recipients Elon Musk, Rupert Murdoch

UPDATE: March 19 — A ceremony planned to honor Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch with an award named after Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been canceled after Ginsburg’s family spoke out against the award’s recipients.

“It is important to note, that the last thing we intended was to offend the family and friends of RBG,” Julie Opperman, chairman of the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, said in a statement. “Our purpose was only to remember her and to honor her leadership. And, while we believe each of the honorees is worthy of our respect for their leadership and their notable contributions, the Foundation has decided that the planned ceremony in April 2024 will be canceled.”

PREVIOUSLY: The family of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called out the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation on Friday for choosing to bestow the RBG Award on Tesla CEO Elon Musk and conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The foundation announced in a news release Wednesday that Musk, Murdoch, actor Sylvester Stallone, lifestyle entrepreneur Martha Stewart and financier Michael Milken will be this year’s recipients of the prestigious RGB Award, which was created in honor of the liberal lawyer and justice.

Brendan V. Sullivan Jr., chair of the RBG Award, said the recipients “reflect the integrity and achievement that defined Justice Ginsburg’s career and legend.”

But in a statement first reported by Mother Jones, Ginburg’s family described the foundation’s choices as an “affront to the memory of our mother and grandmother, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

Throughout her 27 years on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was seen as a champion for gender equality. She fought heavily against gender discrimination by pushing to preserve abortion rights, address the gender pay gap and protect pregnant women in the workforce, USA Today reported.

Although the family’s statement did not name specific recipients, it appeared to point to controversial figures Musk and Murdoch.

Musk, who has positioned himself as an proponent of free speech, has been criticized for endorsing antisemitic conspiracy theories and content on X (formerly Twitter). He has also faced claims from civil rights groups that his leadership has allowed hate speech to spread on the platform since he purchased it in 2022.

Murdoch has not been immune to criticism either. Before stepping down as chairman last year, the media tycoon spent decades reigning over the conservative media empires of Fox Corp. and News Corp. Fox Corp.’s Fox News frequently showcased Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign and presidency and continues to amplify his messages and his allies as he runs again for the presidency.

Murdoch has been accused of spreading lies and “dangerous medical misinformation” about climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic on his various media outlets. Fox News faced a lawsuit for spreading Trump’s 2020 stolen-election lies and agreed to a $787.5 million settlement last April.

The Ginsburg family made it clear that they don’t stand with the foundation’s choices in recipients.

“The Justice’s family wish to make clear that they do not support using their mother’s name to celebrate this year’s slate of awardees, and that the Justice’s family has no affiliation with and does not endorse this award,” the family said in the statement.

The foundation did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

According to the news release, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Leadership Award was created in 2020 to celebrate women of distinction and has since honored notable figures such as Queen Elizabeth II in 2021 and Barbra Streisand last year. This year is the first time the award has been expanded to honor both male and female trailblazers. The lone female honoree this year, Stewart, spent five months in prison in 2004 in an insider trading scandal. Milken spent nearly two years in prison in the 1990s in a securities fraud case and was pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2020.

“Justice Ginsburg fought not only for women but for everyone,” Julie Opperman, chair of the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, said in the news release. “Going forward, to embrace the fullness of Justice Ginsburg’s legacy, we honor both women and men who have changed the world by doing what they do best.”

But Ginsburg’s family noted in their statement that, in reality, the foundation “has strayed far from the original mission of the award and from what Justice Ginsburg stood for” with its recipients this year.

The RBG Award will be presented next month at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Paige Skinner contributed to this report.

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