|Say Good Night, Rupert: Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal Chief Implicated in Explosive UK Scandal|
|Written by Michael Collins|
|Monday, 11 July 2011|
Michael Collins summarizes the serious problems faced by Les Hinton, head of DJNS and publisher of the Wall Street Journal. The scandal tarnishing Hinton and, very soon, WSJ, is of epic proportions. How will Hinton explain that as the executive charged with investigating this, he was unable to find but one of four thousand instances of Murdoch's News of the World invading private voice mails of murder victims, war widows, and the powerful?
Les Hinton is the chief executive of Dow Jones and the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, the most prestigious and valued media holdings of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation media empire. Hinton is implicated as a key player in at least the cover up of illegal break-ins involving hundreds of voice mail accounts belonging to news worthy British citizens high and low. Hinton was chairman of News International, the parent company of Murdoch's London tabloids and newspapers (including the Times of London), at the time of the illegal activities and police investigations. (Image)
What Happened Under Hinton's Reign?
The UK phone jacking scandal started in 2007 when news broke that the News of the World, London's leading tabloid, had been breaking into to voice mail accounts of prominent British citizens:
"In 2006, reporters at the paper used private investigators to illegally gain access to hundreds of mobile phone voicemail accounts held by a variety of people of interest to the newspaper. In 2007 the paper's royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, pleaded guilty to illegal interception of personal communication and was jailed for four months; the paper's editor, Andy Coulson, had resigned two weeks earlier. In 2009/2010, further revelations emerged on the extent of the phone hacking, and how it was common knowledge within the News of the World and its News International parent. According to a former reporter at the paper, "Everyone knew. The office cat knew," about the illegal activities used to scoop stories." Wikipedia
It died down due to lackluster investigation by the London Metropolitan Police. But when it was revealed that the electronic spying was focused on crime victims and orphans, the British public had quite enough.
James Murdoch, son of Mr. Murdoch, pulled the plug on the News of World, earlier this week after claims it paid private investigators to illegally intercept the voice mail messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, bereaved military families and relatives of London bombing victims. It is also accused of paying thousands of pounds illegally to corrupt police officers. Irish Times, July 9
The Sky is Falling
Now, Murdoch's highly lucrative deal to take over 60% of broadcasting giant BSkyB is threatened by this scandal. Prime Minister David Cameron's Culture Minister was expected to approve the acquisition. Quickly, that option may become a political impossibility given Cameron's personal involvement with News Corporation executives, in particular, Rebekah Brooks.
The much reviled Brooks is the former head of the News of the World, shut down just this week as a result of the scandal. Brooks and Cameron appear to be very close. They take regular horseback rides together in the woods near Brooks' country estate and Cameron attended a Christmas party at the Brooks estate, something he was criticized for in the London press.
Hints About Hinton
Les Hinton was and is once again a key player in the investigation.
The Guardian summed up the problems facing Murdoch's prize possession, the WSJ:
"As News Corporation battles to prevent the damage caused by the phone-hacking scandal spilling over into its all-important US holdings, attention is falling on Les Hinton, one of Rupert Murdoch's closest executives in New York, who was deeply involved in the handling of the affair.
Since 2007, Hinton has been chief executive of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal and one of the most prestigious of Murdoch's possessions. The bastion of US business coverage is seen as the crown jewel of Murdoch's media empire." Ed Pilkington, The Guardian, July 8
Hinton faces major challenges right now. The Guardian reports that he may have misrepresented News Corporation's internal investigations to the British Parliament.
"Hinton replied by standing up for Andy Coulson, the News of the World editor who had resigned over the Goodman affair while denying any knowledge of it: "I believe absolutely that Andy did not have knowledge of what was going on." Coulson was arrested on Friday in connection with the phone-hacking investigation." Guardian, July 8.
Andy Coulson, under arrest in London for his role in this scandal, went on to become communications director for Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party from 2007 through Cameron's election.
Hinton will also have to explain, in some detail, why News Corporation paid the man they blamed for this scandal, Andy Goodman, while he was serving time in a British prison.
"Questions also remain over Hinton's approval of a payment to Goodman made after the News of the World's royal editor had been jailed in January 2007." Guardian, July 8
This is reminiscent of the secret payments from the Republican Party to the Watergate burglars while they awaited trial in Judge John Sirica's court.
The questions about Hinton's competence and veracity arising from this spreading scandal lead right back to the credibility of the most prized possession of the Murdoch media empire, the credibility of his entire enterprise, the Wall Street Journal:
"Ilyse Hogue, who specialises in News Corporation affairs within the progressive campaign Media Matters, said: "Given the evidence, Hinton was, at best, supremely neglectful in his investigation or, at worst, he knew about wider wrongdoing and brushed it under the rug. I think Americans are well within their rights to question his role." Guardian, July 8
Ms. Hogue is very diplomatic. Review the Guardian video and testimony transcript at the end of this article. You will see what the Murdoch empire is all about. His key executives reflect the enterprises darker purpose. Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News International, admits to paying police for news information through 2003. She doesn't seem to think that it is illegal to do so. Les Hinton denies that he found any illegal phone jacking other than the reporter that the Murdoch paper gave up. Apparently he was unaware of the very long list of individuals indicating illegal snooping was a common affair. Hinton is followed by News of the World Editor from 2003 through 2007, Andy Coulson, who was arrested recently and is now in police custody for crimes related to this scandal. Without blushing, Coulson states that he never approved of illegal phone surveillance. If these are Murdoch's best, just imagine his worst.
For decades, Rupert Murdoch has seemed invincible. Now, like a tired Lear, he returns to the United Kingdom reportedly to shore up the empire as a result of the illegal activities targeting many, even crime victims and orphans.
Murdoch's rise to power, position, and wealth has seemed an irresistible force since then Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was accused of helping Murdoch acquire United States media deal. Gingrich had just received a $4.5 million advance for a book from a Murdoch subsidiary.
The overlord of the press seems to want it both ways. His Fox News and tabloids are nothing less than engines for the basest scandal and dysfunction. At the same time, he displays the Times of London, the Wall Street Journal, and Dow Jones as signs of his credibility. Thanks to his over reach with his British tabloid, he is now the object of intense coverage by the British press from the Mirror to the Guardian.
Soon, Murdoch may have something of his own to cover " bail.
Appendix: News Corporation executives deny any knowledge of or participation in illegal voice mail and other phone tapping before United Kingdom government inquiries. Guardian.co.uk News of the World: the denials - video
Rebekah Brooks - News of the World Editor 2000-2003, Currently CEO, News International
Les Hinton - Former chairman of the board News International 2004-2007. Currently CEO Dow Jones and Company (which includes the Wall Street Journal)
Andy Coulson - News of the World Editor 2003-2007. Currently under arrest, in police custody.
Originally published at The Money Party . Copyright © 2011, Michael Collins. Reprinted with the permission of the author. This article may be reproduced in part or whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.
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