Dow Jones CEO and Wall St. Journal publisher Les Hinton is stepping down amidst the escalating News Corp phone-hacking scandal.
Hinton has worked with closely with Murdoch for over 50 years and headed up News International, the arm of News Corp that oversees their British tabloids, during the height of the phone-hacking that took place at News of the World.
In his resignation letter to Murdoch he maintained that he had no knowledge that the hackings had taken place.
In 2007 Murdoch brought Hinton over to oversee the newly purchased Dow Jones Company.
This morning Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch’s top exec and ‘favoured daughter,’ suddenly stepped down after being staunchly defended by Rupert in the days following the shuttering of News of the World.
Speculation that Hinton may get caught in the scandal began earlier this week. Even still, the loss of Murdoch’s two top lieutenants in less than 12 hours is stunning.
Moreover, following Brooks’ resignation Hinton was essentlially the last person standing between James and Rupert Murdoch and the full force of the repercussions from the most recent phone-hacking revelations. After this there’s no one left to resign but Rupert, or James, or both.
If that happens, it seems likely News Corp COO Chase Carey will step in at least temporarily. After which, daugther Elisabeth, whose production company Shine was just purchased by News Corp, could feasibly take over. Or does eldest son Lachlan return from Australia where he decamped in 2005 after splitting with his father?
In his memo on Hinton’s resignation, Murdoch says “News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch.”
Here is Murdoch’s and then Hinton’s memo to staff via Peter Kafka.
“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. 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.”
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.
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 apologise 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 honour making my contribution.
With my warmest best wishes,
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