Murchoch's Empire Crumbling? Wall Street Journal CEO Resigns in Phone-Hack Scandal
Since the latest incarnation of the Murdoch empire's phone-hacking scandal at its British newspapers, we at AlterNet have been speculating on the future of Les Hinton, CEO of the Dow Jones Company, which publishes the Wall Street Journal. Today, following on the heels of Murdoch's top executive at News International, the News Corporation division that comprises its British newspapers, Hinton, too, resigned.
Before he came to New York in 2007 to take the helm of Dow Jones after Murdoch's acquisition of the Wall Street media giant, Hinton had the job from which Rebekah Brooks resigned today: executive chairman of News International. Hinton appeared before the culture committee of the British House of Commons to declare that phone-hacking at News of the World was limited to the work of one reporter, Clive Goodman, who covered the royal family. in his testimony, HInton said he based his claim on his own internal investigation. (Media Matters' Eric Boehlert breaks it down here.)
But this week, the Guardian -- which has broken nearly every relevant detail of this scandal with dogged reporting -- revealed that an internal investigation of phone-hacking at News of the World actually found the wrong-doing to be widespread throughout the newsroom, and that HInton had access to the memos produced by that investigation.
At AlterNet, our eyes have been focused on the apparent alliance forged on Hinton's watch between the Wall Street Journal and David Koch's Americans For Prosperity groups. An investigation AlterNet conducted in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute revealed an editorial board member, Stephen Moore, accepting at least $180,000 in speaking fees for appearances at Americans For Prosperity Foundation events while writing editorials and opinion pieces, without full disclosure, that advance the group's political positions. We also found that Moore and another Wall Street Journal writer, John Fund, promoted a worker "education" program that was conducted in workplaces during the 2010 mid-term election campaign by a Koch-linked group.
Here, via All Things D, is Les Hinton's resignation letter to Rupert Murdoch, and a memo to Dow Jones staff:
I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded. I have seen hundreds of news reports of both actual and alleged misconduct during the time I was executive chairman of News International and responsible for the company. The pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable. That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World.
When I left News International in December 2007, I believed that the rotten element at the News of the World had been eliminated; that important lessons had been learned; and that journalistic integrity was restored.
My testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly. When I appeared before the Committee in March 2007, I expressed the belief that Clive Goodman had acted alone, but made clear our investigation was continuing.
In September 2009, I told the Committee there had never been any evidence delivered to me that suggested the conduct had spread beyond one journalist. If others had evidence that wrongdoing went further, I was not told about it.
Finally, I want to express my gratitude to you for a wonderful working life. My admiration and respect for you are unbounded. You have built a magnificent business since I first joined 52 years ago and it has been an honor making my contribution.
With my warmest best wishes,
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 04:10 PM
Subject: farewell and thanks
Many of you will be aware by now that I resigned today from Dow Jones and News Corp. I attach below my resignation letter to Rupert Murdoch.
It is a deeply, deeply sad day for me.
I want you all to know the pride and pleasure I have taken working at Dow Jones for the past three-and-a-half years. I have never been with better, more dedicated people, or had more fun in a job.
News Corp under Rupert’s brilliant leadership has proved a fitting parent of Dow Jones, allowing us to invest and expand as other media companies slashed costs. This support enabled us together to strengthen the company during a brutal economic downturn, developing fine new products – not to mention one of the world’s great newspapers led by one of the world’s great editors, my dear friend and colleague Robert Thomson.
However difficult this moment is for me, I depart with the certain knowledge that we have built the momentum to take Dow Jones on to ever greater things.
Good luck to you all and thank you.
t/t Sarah Jaffe