Murdoch Phone-Hack Scandal Moves Closer to Wall Street Journal Chief

Back when he was the executive chairman of Rupert Murdoch's News International, Les Hinton proved to be so good a corporate soldier than when News of the World, NI'sscandal-ridden tabloid, was asked to account for its hacking of the cell-phone accounts of the rich and famous, Hinton assured the British House of Commons that, based on his thorough investigation of the matter, the wrongdoing was limited to a single reporter.

Just months after his performance in 2007 before the House of Commons culture committee, Hinton won a prime spot in New York, as CEO of the Dow Jones Company, publisher of theWall Street Journal, then newly purchased by Murdoch's News Corporation.

As I reported earlier today (via Media Matters' Eric Boehlert), Hinton was charged with conducting News International's internal investigation of the matter, a fact that the Wall Street Journal has consistently omitted from its coverage of the scandal.

Today the scandal moved even closer to Hinton with the statement issued by James Murdoch (son of News Corp CEO Rupert) to announce the closing of News of the World after a 168-year run. Via the Guardian, whose dogged reporting blew this scandal wide open:

"The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.

"In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose.

"Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.

"As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter. We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences.

"This was not the only fault.

"The paper made statements to Parliament without being in the full possession of the facts." [Emphasis added.]

The statements to which Murdoch refers are those made by Wall Street Journal chief Les Hinton, who, in his former position as executive chairman of News International, assured Parliament that he had made a thoroughgoing investigation of the problem.

Other shoes dropping

 Now comes word, via GottaLaff at The Political Carnival, that Andy Coulson, who served as News of the World's top editor at the time of many of the papers most nefarious activities will be arrested by British authorities tomorrow for his alleged role in promoting the phone-hacking scheme, which also allegedly included the cell-phone voicemail accounts of victims of the London subway terrorism attacks of July 7, 2005. (The 2003 hacking of the account of a murder victime took place on the watch of Coulson's predecessor, Rebekah Wade Brooks, who now has HInton's old job at News International.)

At the time of editorial stint at NOTW, Coulson reported to Les Hinton, before moving on to be the spokesperson for the U.K.'s Conservative Party, and then the communications chief for Prime Minister David Cameron, a post from which he resigned once the NOTW reignited last winter.

Two years after his initial testimony Hinton once again assured Parliament that he was happy with his internal investigation of the matter, according to a live blog by the Guardian's Stephen Busfield, adding that Coulson had "worked very hard to uncover any activities."

Last month the Independent, a U.K.. paper, reported that Murdoch had dispatched a team of crack New York lawyers to London to investigate the scandal. If the scandal merely involved his British employees, why the need for U.S. lawyers?

Wall Street Journal standards deteriorate under Hinton; Koch partnership blantant

Since Les Hinton assumed the helm of the business side of the Wall Street Journal in 2007, the Journal's already loose ethical standards for its opinion columnists and editoiral board members became even looser. For instance, as AlterNet, working in collaboration with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, reported, editorial board member Stephen Moore was permitted to collect more than $150,000 in speaking fees from David Koch's Americans for Prosperity Foundation, even as he touted Koch's and AFP's legislative priories in his columns and WSJ editorials without disclosing his relationship to the organization.

Likewise, columnist John Fund make frequent appearances at AFP Foundation events.

When we asked Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot to comment on the propriety of Moore's activities, he declined, referring us instead to Ashley Huston, a spokesperson for Hinton. Huston declined to reveal the criteria for such outside activities that governs WSJ employees, saying only that permission for engagements such as those taken up by Moore is granted by Dow Jones on a case-by-case basis. So there are a whole lot of cases on which Dow Jones, under Hinton's leadership, gave Moore the green light, including multiple workplace appearances via a Koch-linked program by which employers "educate" their employees -- at election time -- on how the enactment of liberal policies will cost them their jobs.  Most of Moore's workplace visits took place in the Great State of Wisconsin during the 2010 election campaign that yielded the governorship of Scott Walker.

Now, there's some great journalism ethics for ya.

AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at July 7, 2011, 10:25am

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