Murdoch’s empire is turning gangrenous – here and in the US

The momentum behind the phone hacking scandal is starting to spread from the News of The World and infect other tectacles of Rupert Murdoch's empire.

The momentum behind the phone hacking scandal is starting to spread from the News of the World (NotW) and infect other tectacles of Rupert Murdoch’s empire. Renault, for example, have not just pulled advertising from the ex-newspaper, but from all News International (NI) titles.

The Institute of Fundraising is warning its members to be very wary before accepting any donations from the organisation, which pledged to donate proceeds from the last edition of the News of the World to good causes.

And now anti-Murdoch campaigners in America are starting to sniff blood. Their target: Les Hinton, current publisher of the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by NI’s parent company News Corporation. Mr Hinton was executive chairman of News International while Coulson edited News of the World.

Media activists Media Matters for America have written:

“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…

“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…

“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 authorised 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?” 

Many anti-Murdoch campaigners around the world have been waiting for a moment like this. Now they are going to attack the media moghul’s empire at every opportunity.

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