News Corp. Execs Tumble as Scandal Widens

Former News International chair Les Hinton bows to pressure, following Rebekah Brooks out the door at News Corp.

Last Updated: July 15, 2011 @ 3:54 PM

Two top senior executives at News Corp. resigned on Friday. Les Hinton, CEO of Dow Jones & Co., resigned in a letter to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch just hours after Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief of News International, stepped down. 

Hinton, who also serves as publisher of the Wall Street Journal and is a 52-year veteran of the company, sent out a memo to his staff calling it a "deeply, deeply sad day."

Hinton has come under great scrutiny of late because of his possible complicity in the phone hacking scandal enveloping News Corp. Hinton was chairman of News International, News Corp.'s British publishing arm and the division that oversaw the now-shuttered tabloid News of the World, from 1997 to 2005 — while much of the hacking and alleged bribery took place.

His resignation came the same day as that of Rebekah Brooks, his successor at News International and herself a former World editor.

In his resignation letter to Murdoch, Hinton said he was not aware of wrongdoing at News of the World beyond what was discovered in an investigation under his purview in 2007. Hinton testified in front of the English 

Parliament's Culture Media and Sports Select Committee that only one man — former royals editor Clive Goodman — had engaged in hacking.

Subsequent revelations have revealed those comments to be false and have raised suspicion that editors and potentially even News Corp. executives were aware of the nefarious activities.

"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."

The scandal that has raged for nearly two weeks continues to scale the News Corp. hierarchy, with the latest resignations uncomfortably close to the CEO suite. Both Brooks and Hinton are close friends and advisers of the elder Murdoch.

The company issued a statement by Murdoch that accompanied the news:

"Les and I have been on a remarkable journey together for more than 52 years. That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me,” commented Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation.

“On this difficult day we should appreciate that his extraordinary work has provided a platform for the future success of Dow Jones. And his great contribution to News Corporation over more than five decades has enhanced innumerable lives, whether those of employees hired by him or of readers better informed because of him.  News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch. It is the collective creativity and effort of many thousands of people around the world, and few individuals have given more to this Company than Les Hinton."

Dow Jones President Todd Larsen will replace Hinton and report to news Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey.

Here is the full text of the letter Hinton wrote to Murdoch:

Dear Rupert,

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,

Les

 

Here is the full text of the memo Hinton sent his staff:

From: Les_Hinton
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 04:10 PM
To: Les_Hinton
Subject: farewell and thanks

Dear all,

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.

Les

More to come…