The purge is on at News Corp, where Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton has resigned. His resignation comes just hours after Rebekah Brooks stepped down as CEO of News International, News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit and home to News of the World, the tabloid at the center of a hacking scandal that has thrown Rupert Murdoch‘s empire into turmoil.
Hinton’s departure does not come as a surprise. He preceded Brooks as chief of News International, and primed the company for some of its current troubles by repeatedly testifying before Parliament that phone hacking by a News of the World journalist was an isolated incident rather than part of a broader pattern.
In a statement, Hinton acknowledged his assurances to Parliament were in error but said it was not a deliberate attempt to mislead. “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,” he said. “My testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly.”
The last 48 hours have marked a dramatic about-face for News Corp., which, in its initial response to the re-ignition of the hacking furor last week, relied principally on wagon-circling. In addition to accepting the resignations of Brooks and Hinton, Murdoch has apologized in person to the parents of Milly Dowler, the murdered teenager whose voicemail messages were accessed and deleted by a News of the World investigator; apologized to the entire British public via an advertisement run in his and other newspapers; and agreed to answer questions before a Parliamentary committee next Tuesday.
Jeff Bercovici, Forbes Staff