Dow Jones-Wall Street Journal Head Drawn Into Murdoch UK Phone Jacking Scandal

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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: 
UPDATE  
July 15  Dow Jones CEO - Wall Street Journal Publisher Les Hinton Resigns - CBS News, July 15
 
 
"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 voicemail 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 61% 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 British public outrage and  Cameron's personal involvement with News Corporation executives, in particular, Rebekah Brooks.  Last Friday, July 8, Cameron announced that government approval of the deal wouldn't be forthcoming until investigations of the handling of the scandal by London police was completed.  The day before Cameron's announcement, Labour Party Leader David Miliband called for the House of Commons to block the deal by Murdoch's News corp.   The Financial Times reported that Labour's proposal was attracting Liberal Democratic support.

Cameron had to weigh his close relationships with News Corporation and key executives against the political oblivion of allowing a favorable deal for Murdoch on BSkyB.  The much reviled Rebekah 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 British press.  Of interest, despite broad based demands that Brooks be relieved of her current duties, chief executive of News Corporation's News International, Murdoch refused to consider letting go of the long time employee.

The UK woes of News Corporation reach across the Atlantic to the United States as Les Hinton's role in the phone hacking/information jacking scandal grows.  As the saying goes, he knew or should have known that this was going on, something he denied.

How much credibility would Mr. Hinton have if asked this question:

Has there been any phone hacking/information jacking by News Corporation publications in the United States?

Who would believe a "No" answer to that question if Hinton's handling of the internal investigation of News of the World hacking/jacking is further discredited?  It is a fact that Hinton failed to discover all but one of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of illegal intrusions into voicemails, etc. that occurred when he conducted his internal investigation, completed in 2007. 

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.
 
Meantime we shall express our darker purpose. King Lear
 
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.
 
END
 
This article may be reproduced entirely or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.
 

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
Brooks: We have paid the police for information in the past.

Les Hinton - Former chairman of the board News International 2004-2007.  Currently CEO Dow Jones and Company (which includes the Wall Street Journal)
Q:  Have you carried out a full rigorous internal inquiry and are you absolutely convinced that Clive Goodman was the only person who knew what was going on?
Les Hinton:  Yes I have and I believe that he was the only person but that investigation continues under the new editor.

Andy Coulson - News of the World Editor 2003-2007.   Currently under arrest, in police custody.
Coulson:  We never condoned the use of phone hacking nor do I have any recollection of incidences when phone hacking took place.

 

 

Meta: 

Comments

Hope for change;)

My allusion to Murdoch having to bail himself out of jail is fanciful and wishful thinking at the most. However, he has a life sentence. He will spend the rest of his days watching his empire crumble quickly or slowly just when he had the BIG deal lined up - BSkhB.

He had one son as the heir apparent, a son who warned him. He send the first packing and brought in the second who presided over the end of the family franchise. This is epic and tragic and well deserved. Murdoch is one of the greatest nihilists of all time.

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Will the UK ruling Conservative - Lib Dem coalition collapse?

Who knows what those Liberal Democrats will do?  They saw fit to form a coalition with the Conservative Cameron thus elevating policies they opposed.  However, Murdoch's own Sky News reported that Rebeka (close friend of Cameron's) Brooks was "sickened" to hear that the News of the World had tapped the voice mail of a murder victim's family, a shameless act worthy of a sociopath.  At that time, Nick Clegg, Liberal Democratic leader and Sancho Panza to Cameron, was "appalled" by the allegations.

About the same time, The Independent reported this:

Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News International, personally commissioned searches by one of the private investigators who was later used by the News of the World to trace the family of the murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler, The Independent can reveal.

Well, that's quite a revelation!  Brooks must be "sickened" by activity she ordered herself. Clegg conditioned his outrage based on proven allegations. We're close and Clegg is now demanding that Cameron gal pal resign.

Where does that leave us? 

Things look grim for Cameron.

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Specter haunting the Money Party

The UK, like the US, has a system where the candidate with the most votes (whether a majority or not) wins the election.

The UK's old Liberal Party is gone, but a third party thrives in the Liberal Democrats.

A viable third party is hardly a panacea, but it does have the potential to change the old two-party system equation.

In the USA, a specter haunts the power brokers of the Money Party -- the specter of the Reform Party.

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That's true

The UK specter is more identifiable. Ours hasn't taken form yet that I can see but it's there. That must be disconcerting to The Money Party.

The Liberal Democrats are less than thrilled with leader Nick Clegg, author of the deal with Cameron. With The Independent vouching for the veracity of the charge that Cameron's handler, Rebekah Brooks, personally authorized electronic snooping on a family whose child was murdered and the survivors of lost soldiers, it should be fairly clear that Cameron is not acceptable as the leader of the nation.

At that point, Clegg can bring down the government He would be a tarnished candidate but the party might be open to something truly substantial. Maybe Labour could re-animate with someone with credentials that are pro people.

Any shake up over there will be a lesson here. Both parties are working hard right now, I suspect, to hedge against any real expression of the people's will.

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Labour on the rise

Hi,

The Liberals have always been a distant third party in the UK since the days of David Lloyd George. The UK's 'first past the post' electoral system favours the two major parties and at the last election the electorate stale mated the election so that is why there is an uneasy coalition. Coalitions historically have a short life in Britain.

What is likely to happen, if Labour plays it correctly, is that the coalition collapses in on its own contradictions and Labour wins a majority at the next election especially if they are seen to be going after Murdoch as he is a reviled figure.

Also the Conservatives are enacting policies that are extremely divisive and have threatened the Health Service, screwed up Britain's Defences and no one really wants Murdoch to own B Skye B outright as it is seen as a 'mates' deal with Murdoch. Cameron is really an overgrown public school boy that has never had a real job - the Conservative Tony Blair - vacuous and self serving (must be a trait of politicians).

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Thank you Nexus

The people of the UK benefit substantially by a more open press than we have here. The Guardian and the Independent seem to take on power more aggressively than lets say, oh, any press organization here. There are more than the two papers I mentioned, I suspect.

The fascinating and encouraging feature of all this is that the ground swell of popular outrage, well directed, is forcing this forward. I've never seen anything like the compressed timeline from Davies on the 4th to today's indication that MPs of all parties will pass a bill effectively telling Murdoch to go packing.

Fine work and much admired.

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Les Hinton not lee hinton

Les Hinton not lee hinton (you named him lee in a few places in the article)

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In the meantime, the British people face this

While Rupert, Rebekah, and PM David have their roll in the hay of non stop scrutiny, so to speak, we see this:

Middle classes are Britain's new homeless

By Kunal Dutta - TheIndependent July 10

Britain faces an "unprecedented and escalating" housing crisis, charities warned yesterday, with middle-class families at greater risk of homelessness than at any point in the past century.

Geoff Hawkins, chief executive of the housing charity Chapter 1, said the problem was no longer confined to the stereotype of rough sleepers rehabilitating from lifelong addictions, but now includes victims of recession who do not qualify for appropriate help

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DeGroote Says News Corp-BSkyB Deal Is Now Unlikely

July 8 (Bloomberg-see video at link) -- Alex DeGroote, a media analyst at Panmure Gordon & Co., talks about the outlook for News Corp.'s 7.8 billion-pound ($12.5 billion) takeover bid for British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. He speaks with Andrea Catherwood on Bloomberg Television's "Last Word." (Source: Bloomberg) (Bloomberg)

The regulatory decision to allow Murdoch to acquire 61% of BSkyB is based on this criteria:  Is the purchaser "a fit and proper person" to acquire the media property.

DeGroote said that the deal was 80-90% likely to be approved before the snooping scandal.  He handicapped it at 50% and that was 48 hours ago. 

Opposition to the deal is cresting with Ed Miliband, Labor Party leader, introducing a legislative motion to stop the deal until all criminal investigations of News Corporation are complete.  That would effectively kill the deal.  Miliband will urge MPs to halt BSkyB takeover (July 9):

Rupert Murdoch's ambition to expand his media empire still further could be killed off by MPs this week after Labour announced plans for a Commons vote to thwart his bid for BSkyB.

The move comes amid a mood of continuing public uproar over the phone-hacking scandal, which is now threatening to destabilise David Cameron's government.

-------

Of note, the DeGroote interview raised an interesting point.  If Murdoch is denied the takeover of BSkyB, would't that raise questions about his status as a "fit and proper" owner in other British Comonwealth nations?  DeGroote isn't a politician or screen writer.  He's just laying out the factors that will influence this deal and News Corporation as a media property.

If there are challenges in other nations plus a focused attack on Murdoch in the United States, we will find out if this idol has feet of clay.

 

 

 

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Charles Augustus Milverton

Murdoch reminds me of one of the fictional villains in the Sherlock Holmes stories, a man who blackmailed high society figures and was finally brought down by one of the victims. In Murdoch's case it was a low society figure - Milly Dowler - who from the grave seems to extract revenge for Murdoch's crimes. In her case it was the fact that having tapped into Milly Dowler's Twitter account, News of the World editors proceeded to add false tweets to the record, giving the impression she was still alive, and stringing the public along in order to sell yet more papers.

Murdoch has had what appears from the outside to be a bizarre stranglehold over politicians in the US, the UK, and his home country of Australia. His papers are credited with vaulting Margaret Thatcher to the throne, and then eventually turning on the Conservatives in favor of Tony Blair. You wonder, though, if there is more to his power than just using his papers to swing voter opinion - it looks like he may know much more about the personal lives of politicians than the public realizes, and that his editors are not afraid to use that information. After all, in an information age, information is power, and Murdoch has always craved power, not just wealth.

To obtain power without wealth is, in the long run, a business model sure to fail, and Murdoch's problem is he has a love affair with print media, which is a dying business. He therefore makes some of his properties profitable by breaking the law in order to get information that constitutes "scoops", especially anything to do with the personal lives of politicians, royalty, and celebrities. In periodic lulls in the flow of illicit information about these people, he creates celebrities out of thin air, such as Milly Dowler and her friends and her hapless parents. Anything to keep sales figures up.

In the US, he traffics in lies, distortions, straw men arguments, ad hominem attacks on liberals, and other unprofessional devices to nurture a frightened and credulous audience for demagogues like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and the late Glenn Beck. He teams up with a culture of like-minded figures in talk radio and right-wing think tanks, and legal vultures like Nancy Grace, to constantly stoke the public's anxiety, and he has deliberately contributed, if not been the primary creator of, the red-blue political and cultural divide that is destroying the political center in the US. Politicians spend endless hours bemoaning the lack of bipartisanship, but they never point their fingers at Murdoch and people like him (Roger Ailes) who have created this destructive form of politics.

The hatred of liberals and liberalism has been a fixture of the right-wing media for almost 30 years, coinciding with the time Murdoch began to build his empire. This hatred continues to infest the ordinary public discourse - you can see it manifest itself every day in political chat rooms, or the comments section on any media blogs. It won't stop until men like Murdoch and Ailes and others who control media outlets, including US talk radio, put a stop to it, which means abandoning their most potent tool for dragging in audience, selling advertising, and selling books by right-wing "authors" like Ann Coulter.

The significance of the News of the World scandal is that, for the first time, the UK public has broken free of the manipulation, and looked at it from a different angle, realizing they have been duped in order to feed the pocketbooks of men like Murdoch, and indirectly their political tools like Cameron. Whether this will ever happen to the US public remains to be seen, but it would probably take some "liberal" being hounded to death literally by FOX News for people who are addicted to this network to shake free for just a moment from the hatred and lies they are fed daily. Perhaps the destruction of political civility will become so severe that both left and right will realize the country is going to continue to sink if the media manipulators are not stopped. A third option is for the Republican Party leaders to decide they are tired of being owned by Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, and their like. We are beginning to see stirrings of this among men like John McCain and Orrin Hatch, who realize that the Tea Party is a creature of Roger Ailes and the Koch Brothers, and it is threatening their own careers in Congress and their entire party because it is dragging the Republicans into a fantasy land of birther conspiracies and lunatic fringe politics.

Meanwhile, back to Rupert Murdoch's business model, he seems to have pushed his money-making machines like NOTW and FOX News to the limit, while losing hundreds of millions of dollars on his respectable print franchises like the WSJ and the Times of London. Hence the desire to branch out into the rentier businesses like B Sky B cable. He's now given up NOTW, though he will probably merely recreate the franchise at The Sun, perhaps without the illegal wiretaps to get scoops and make up stories. His wife Wendy and son Lachlan loathe Roger Ailes and have pressured him for years to jettison FOX News. Maybe he will be forced to sell that property if it starts to deteriorate now that the public or the Republican Party may decide it has had enough of being manipulated.

If so, let us hope Rupert Murdoch lives many more years so that he can watch his empire disintegrate, going down in flames with the global economy and the political structure that allowed him to thrive in the first place.

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You did their thinking for them

This is an exceptional commentary on the moral dimension of all of this, the most salient issue. Please put it up as an original post. It will save those still pondering the association with Murdoch any trouble. The issues are outlined clearly and the moral choice is easy even for those who can't quite see that they're associated with a ghoul in the News Corporation.

Ghoul is a strong word but the Milly Fowler case can best be understood with this information. News of the World did not just hack into the kidnapped girl's voice mail to jack information. In doing so, they made it appear that additional messages were added, thus giving Fowler's parents the false hope that their daughter was still alive. It is difficult to believe that a news organization would hack a voice mail under these circumstances. It is beyond the pale that the acdt would result in the false hope of life for terrified and traumatized parents.

The business model comments have a sequel. You said, "To obtain power without wealth is, in the long run, a business model sure to fail, and Murdoch's problem is he has a love affair with print media, which is a dying business." That's the set up. The bad news for Murdoch is already in. His venture into internet/electronic media failed, miserably. News Corp bought "My Space" (sounds vaguely familiar but I can't quite place it;) for $0.5 bil. It took off:

"It looks like the best acquisition we've made in a long, long time," Peter Chernin, the second-in-command at News Corp., said in an interview with FORTUNE. "MySpace is the single biggest growth opportunity this company has." CNN Money

And then it did what anyone in the internet business would have predicted. It tanked. People don't go there even to cancel their old accounts.

But worse, Murdoch's key roll out, his "future" - 'The Daily', has a certain 'My Space' look to it. First, it is an iPad specific electronic newspaper. The world is larger than iPad, much. Reports of key staff defections are interesting. Are the ground floor options useless? There are harsh reviews galore.

I heard Murdoch address a press group a few years ago on the new media. C-Span carried it and I was stuck in traffic. As I listened, it occurred to me that he was just mouthing platitudes that have been around since the first public data network, Telenet, took off in the early 1980s. There were many dynamic and useful applications of the original internet. Then there were investors who lived in their own fantasy world, usually based on the shedding of costs for this or that.

Murdoch and his crew are exposed as morally repellant in the extreme. I would bet that few who read this site even known one person who might know people as disgusting as the Murdoch organization.

Murdoch's business model is, as you noted, predicted on harvesting old technology though any means available. That's backfired. His venture into net based distribution and publishing is a flop as evidenced by 'My Space' and 'The Daily'.

But he should sick around. He's our new Scrooge, albeit without the possibility or potential for reform.

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punditry

If you can believe this, FAUX was busy claiming Cantor (who is insane) and others are not raising the debt ceiling due to 2012 elections.

Every single cable noise just doesn't cover the issues in full. They all have these inane "panels" of "guest contributors" who add more noise, without content.

On the other hand, Geithner was on Face the Nation and it's just a joke. Pushing more bad trade deals.

So we have media all sew up not even talking about policies that would actually work to turn the economy around and both parties pushing corporate agendas or economic insanity.

In other words, let's say FAUX goes down, they will just get a replacement of more of the same.

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Murdoch is the worst of worst

There would be no vacuum to fill since the other corporate media are like PR shops for those at the very top of the pyramid. However, Murdoch's properties are a special brand, approaching evil. Their drumbeat in support of Iraq included pinning 9/11 on Saddam Hussein, completely false and they knew it. There are still about 40% of the people in this country who share that belief. That 40% constitutes the majority of Fox viewers. Just one of several devastating notions promoted by Murdoch. This in no way recommends the alternatives, particularly allowing Geithner to gain access again and again promoting his voodoo economics. It's not much of a choice but, as an object lesson and to eliminate the serious damage Murdoch does on wars of aggression, he needs to go soon.

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