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How Murdoch's Wall Street Journal Publisher Botched News Corp.'s Phone-Hacking Investigation

July 07, 2011 1:58 pm ET by Eric Boehlert

Rupert Murdoch is shuttering his scandal-plagued News of The World tabloid in London. Will he have to cut ties with a longtime executive of his in America, too?

As we noted this week, when Murdoch purchased the Wall Street Journal in 2007 he immediately  selected his loyal aide and longtime confidant Les Hinton to run the Dow Jones Company and become publisher of the newspaper.

But prior to taking over Murdoch's American publishing jewel, Hinton ran the mogul's British newspapers, including News of the World. And Hinton ran the newspapers at a time when the tabloid was hacking mobile phones at an astonishing rate.

That in and of itself is a problem, given the week's extraordinary events.

But perhaps even more troubling is the fact that Hinton oversaw News Corp.'s initial internal investigation into the phone hacking scandal and came away convinced there was no evidence of widespread wrongdoing in the company, and that the hacking had been confined to just one reporter.  (The company went to "extraordinary lengths" to uncover any crimes, Hinton boasted at the time.) And that's the happy line Hinton told to members of Parliament who pressed him in 2009 about the long-simmering controversy.

Keep Hinton's pronouncements in mind while reading the formal statement issued today by News Corp. executive James Murdoch [emphasis added]:  

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. This was wrong.

The company paid out-of-court settlements approved by me. I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret.

Hinton, a veteran journalist himself, was tasked with finding out the truth about phone hacking inside News Corp.'s tabloid. He came away with Pollyannaish findings, claiming Murdoch's operation was clean, except for one bad apple. As I noted previously, it's  an investigation that, in light of recent developments, looks to have been incompetent at best, and a fraud at worst. In fact, it looks to have been part of a failed cover-up.

For the record, Hinton also authorized payments to the News of the World reporter at the heart of the hacking scandal, as well as for the private detective that reporter hired. Hinton authorized the payments after both men had been jailed.

Given all that, is Les Hinton really qualified to be publisher of one of the largest and most prestigious newspapers in America? 




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    • Author by IRONY 101 (July 07, 2011 2:04 pm ET)
      6  
      So what else DON'T we know about Murdoch's media operations...?

      I would be very interested to know to what lengths FOX News, when covering tabloid-type stories such as the disappearance Natalie Hollaway or the death of Anna Nicole Smith, has resorted to unconventional methods of investigative journalism which breach any reasonable standards of ethics or decency.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by Bad News (July 07, 2011 2:38 pm ET)
        5 3
        Newscorp Has Got To Be Taken Down.
        By any and all Legal Means & i mean Down to the Ground.
        Investigate everyone working for This Filth, from the Janitor to Rupert Murdoch's son.
        What Don't We Know About Murdoch's Media Operations? it's the finding out that is half the fun.

        Speak truth to power.


        Mr. News
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        • Author by FNC Liberal (July 08, 2011 3:04 am ET)
          1  
          The punch-clockers who work at News Corporation's many divisions have no say or control over the internal operations/issues of News Corporation. It's the executives, officers, chief of operations, managers, publishers, etc. that should be investigated.

          The shutter of News of the World is just the beginning of Rupertgate. Like Watergate, if someone is going down, they are taking someone with them.
          Report Abuse
        • Author by kamrom (July 08, 2011 5:44 am ET)
            2
          ...Seriously I dont like to trash others on the left too much but this is getting rather tiresome. It was cute when you started but you need to find another avenue for expression. At least a different timing scheme.
          Report Abuse
      • Author by Am-Expat (July 09, 2011 10:31 pm ET)
           
        The UK press units were at least trying to, albeit illegally and unethically, to create scandal based somewhat on fact gathered from wire taps and hacking, but the Fox units in the US do not even both with that, and just make it ALL up in their effort to undermine the country.
        If a foreign power did the things that Fox and Murdoch do to the country, it would be considered as an act of war.

        I remember when Murdoch first decided to invade the US market and buy up media outlets far in excess of what was allowed by law at the time. He quickly bought legislation to allow him unlimited concentration of media outlets in every market. Australia waned us about the destruction that would occur if he was allowed in. There was a lot of protest at the time but protest, citizen concerns and the laws mean nothing to a man on a mission, to invade and undermine the country for political and financial gain.
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    • Author by pete592 (July 07, 2011 2:05 pm ET)
      8  
      "Given all that, is Les Hinton really qualified to be publisher of one of the largest and most prestigious newspapers in America?"
      Another good question would be: How much of that prestige can be retained as long as Hinton is in charge? From my personal viewpoint, it already took a huge hit when Murdoch bought it.
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      • Author by hoopvillain (July 07, 2011 4:36 pm ET)
        5  
        The Wall Street Journal used to be a quality newspaper. They used to cover things with a relative unbiased eye. Back in the 80's they wrote a white paper on American involvement in Central America and it was very critical of the Reagan administration. Now, it is just another newscorpse rag like Nooze of the world. I agree, noozecorpse has lost all credibility and has shown that it is not a news organization but a political hack and criminal organization as such , it needs to be destroyed.
        Report Abuse
        • Author by wizbing (July 07, 2011 7:26 pm ET)
          2  
          The business news coverage was good pre-Murdoch, as long as it did not involve anything political. The editorial page was terrible, but it may be worse now.
          Report Abuse
    • Author by hoopvillain (July 07, 2011 2:10 pm ET)
      3  
      Next!!!
      Report Abuse
    • Author by didi (July 07, 2011 2:15 pm ET)
      3  
      "Given all that, is Les Hinton really qualified to be publisher of one of the largest and most prestigious newspapers in America?"

      He sure is if your Rupert!

      Prestige? That'll be gone as soon as this fall.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by Russ139 (July 07, 2011 2:22 pm ET)
      5  
      Hackergate!
      Report Abuse
    • Author by captfoster2 (July 07, 2011 2:29 pm ET)
      8  
      At this point... the only thing left is for this information to simply break through the thick skulls of those who have yet to accept these facts.

      Keep it up MediaMatters!! Your hard work and dedication to the truth helped get rid of Glenn Beck.

      I caution you however to please not lose perspective or the "why" you are here.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by Russ139 (July 07, 2011 2:42 pm ET)
      5  
      Garbage in... Garbage out.
      Report Abuse
    • Author by eweston8542983 (July 07, 2011 2:56 pm ET)
      6  
      Just remember as you use the phone, Uncle Rupert may be listening.
      Report Abuse
      • Author by somnambulist (July 07, 2011 3:27 pm ET)
        7  
        The thought of a questionably-constitutional FBI warrantless wire tap sounds incredibly appealing in comparison. At least the FBI/CIA/Homeland Security can't make money gossiping about your voicemail.
        Report Abuse
    • Author by firbolg (July 07, 2011 7:35 pm ET)
         
      Its not going too well on the other side of the pond either.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/world/europe/08britain.html?hp&emc=na
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