Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton Quits As Hacking Probe Widens

He was the head of International News during the phone-hacking scandal

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Update 1: "Les Hinton certainly doesn't sound like he wanted to go," tweeted media columnist (and Murdoch biographer) Michael Wolff. After reading Hinton's letter of resignation , we're inclined to agree. The New York Times Media Decoder blog posted the full text. The holy-cow! emphasis is all ours.

Dear Rupert,

I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded. I have seen hundreds of news reports of both actual and alleged misconduct during the time I was executive chairman of News International and responsible for the company. The pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable. That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World.

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.

My testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly. When I appeared before the Committee in March 2007, I expressed the belief that Clive Goodman had acted alone, but made clear our investigation was continuing.

In September 2009, I told the Committee there had never been any evidence delivered to me that suggested the conduct had spread beyond one journalist. If others had evidence that wrongdoing went further, I was not told about it.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to you for a wonderful working life. My admiration and respect for you are unbounded. You have built a magnificent business since I first joined 52 years ago and it has been an honor making my contribution.

With my warmest best wishes,


Original story: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton will resign this afternoon. He is also the paper's publisher.

As the Journal story notes, Hinton "headed News Corp.'s News International unity when the phone-hacking allegations roiling the media empire first arose." He alerted colleagues of the news via email.

Hinton left News International for Dow Jones in 2007 following Rupert Murdoch's takeover. Writing in the New York Times today about the mounting pressure on Hinton, Jeremy Peters stressed that while the executive hasn't been linked to listening in on the hacked voicemails, his statements to British Parliament in 2007 and 2009 that the practice was "limited to one rogue reporter" and that he was "never presented with any evidence that led him to believe the practice was widespread" look questionable. In light of the recent revelations to the contrary, writes Peters, those statements "would indicate at best that he unwittingly allowed a corrupt journalistic culture to flourish underneath him."

The Village Voice says Hinton intended to to retire next year.

Murdoch addressed the departure in an all-staff email, which is now up at the Wall Street Journal's Web site. It's an odd mixture of defiance ("It is a measure of his integrity and the quality of his character that he felt compelled to take responsibility even though he is far from the serious issues in London"), nostalgia ("I vividly recall an enthusiastic young man in the offices of my first newspaper in Adelaide, where Les joined the company as a 15-year-old and had the rather unenviable task of buying me sandwiches for lunch"), and fatalism. ("It was clear then that Les was a remarkable talent, and that he had the ability and the energy to carry him far. Little did we both realize that we would be travel companions on a journey through the world of magazines, Hollywood, television studios, coupons and the greatest newspapers on the globe. Little did we realize that our corporate relationship would end in these circumstances.")

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