Rupert is Going Down – The Punters Win

Excuse us, the other 60 million punters who never bought the News of The World in our lives nor could give a flying f*** what the rapacious, overpaid, talentless vultures of Fleet Street or Wapping are up to in their pursuit of filling the empty heads of the rabid, uneducated morons of British pond life who bought the paper filled with meaningless scandals and irrelevance, only to fill the pockets of some bloodless octagenarian a million miles away. And now we watch the politicians squirm as they try desparately to find Fourth Estate scapegoats to be barbecued in public and thus steer the heat away from their own arses. Does Cameron not know that it was reported that his first unofficial visitor to Downing Street via the back door was Rupert Murdoch? Does the British press and the educated public really not know that Cameron is as corrupt a poitician as there has ever been, completely in the pocket of this Murdoch vulture – the err…Dirty Digger – and beholden to his every whim? The Cameron reptile and his acolytes must go. Or the sickness will persist.

Rebekah Brooks: her resignation letter to staff.

At News International we pride ourselves on setting the news agenda for the right reasons. Today we are leading the news for the wrong ones. The reputation of the company we love so much, as well as the press freedoms we value so highly, are all at risk. As chief executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place. I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate.

This is now detracting attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past. Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted. Rupert’s wisdom, kindness and incisive advice has guided me throughout my career and James is an inspirational leader who has shown me great loyalty and friendship.

I would like to thank them both for their support. I have worked here for 22 years and I know it to be part of the finest media company in the world. News International is full of talented, professional and honourable people. I am proud to have been part of the team and lucky to know so many brilliant journalists and media executives.

I leave with the happiest of memories and an abundance of friends. As you can imagine recent times have been tough. I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive. My resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries, the police investigations and the CMS appearance. I am so grateful for all the messages of support. I have nothing but overwhelming respect for you and our millions of readers.

I wish every one of you all the best.

Rebekah

No relationship is safe, no loyal bond strong enough for Rupert Murdoch who – looking more than the sum of his 80 years – is mounting a final battle to save the company he built from nothing. His decision to throw Les Hinton to the wolves is his most dramatic move yet. For more than 50 years, as a journalist and then an executive, Hinton loyally served the Murdoch empire from its roots in Australia to the height of its power in New York. Now, in a desperate effort to save News Corporation’s most valuable assets – its 27 US broadcast licences and the 20th Century Fox movie studio – Murdoch is prepared to sacrifice one of his closest allies.

The problem for Murdoch is that every time he ditches a key executive, the flames of scandal flick ever closer to him. Hinton was ditched because he was the crucial link between Murdoch’s valuable US businesses and the tainted operation in Britain. He was at the helm of NI – the holding company for his UK newspapers including the News of the World and the Times – when it seemed that everyone who was in sniffing distance of a significant news story found their phones being hacked.

Questions were being raised about what Hinton knew about corrupt payments to London police officers: if he was shown to have been aware of them, that would be a felony in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The problem for News Corp now is that, at every stage, its attempts to contain this story have failed. The decision to close the News of the World was motivated in part to save the chief executive of NI, Rebekah Brooks: that decision bombed and Brooks resigned on Friday.
But the departure of Brooks was not enough to contain the scandal in Britain, so Hinton, who has been more significant to the company’s fortunes and to Murdoch personally for far longer than Brooks, also left. The inevitable next move for Murdoch is prolicide. His son James, appointed in 2007 as chairman and chief executive of News Corporation’s operations in Europe and Asia, based at News International’s headquarters in Wapping, east London, clings on – but only for now.

In London, James Murdoch oversaw the response to the hacking scandal. He approved the £700,000 hush money paid to Gordon Taylor, the former chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association – a decision he has blamed on poor advice. (The legal director of News International, Tom Crone, was one of the executives of News International to leave this week.)

Meanwhile American political voices were already calling for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation to be prosecuted in the US for bribery in the News of the World scandal. Rupert Murdoch donated $1m to a pro-business lobby in the US months before the group launched a high-profile campaign to alter the anti-bribery law – the same law that could potentially be brought to bear against News Corporation over the phone-hacking scandal. News Corporation contributed $1m to the US Chamber of Commerce last summer. In October the chamber put forward a six-point programme for amending the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, a law that punishes US-based companies for engaging in the bribery of foreign officials. Progressive groups in the US have speculated that there is no coincidence in the contemporaneous timing of the Murdoch donation and the launch of the chamber’s FCPA campaign, which they claim is designed to weaken the anti-bribery legislation. “The timing certainly raises questions about who is bankrolling this campaign – if it’s not News Corporation who is it?” said Joshua Dorner of the Centre for American Progress action fund.

Ilyse Hogue of the monitoring group Media Matters said the donation was in tune with Murdoch’s track record. “Time and again we’ve seen News Corporation use their massive power and influence to change laws that don’t suit them. The proximity of this contribution and the chamber’s lobbying campaign at least should raise eyebrows.”

The Chamber of Commerce dismissed the suggestions of a link between its campaign and the News of the World scandal as “preposterous” and “completely false”. “Our efforts to modernise an outdated act have been ongoing for nearly a year,” a spokesman said, adding that the aim of the proposals was to obtain clear rules of the road for American businesses. The FCPA can imprison and fine individuals and companies. It was signed into law in 1977 as a means of clamping down on the bad behaviour of US companies abroad. In recent years it has been increasingly usesd. The 10 heaviest FCPA settlements have all occurred since 2007 and total $2.8bn.

News Corporation, which has its headquarters in the US, emphasises in its corporate literature that it has a global anti-bribery policy. “We don’t offer, give, solicit or accept bribes or kickbacks, either in cash or in the form of any other thing or service of value,” it says.

But evidence has come to light that News Corporation employees working for the News of the World bribed police officers in the UK. “What News of the World did would seem to fall squarely within the parameters of the FCPA,” said Philip Raible, a media lawyer with Rayner Rowe LLP in New York. The chorus of demands that News Corporation face an FCPA investigation has grown steadily louder in the US in the past two days. The former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has called in Slate for an immediate investigation of the company for violation of the anti-bribery act. Congressional representatives have added their voices to demands for an official investigation. Bruce Braley, a Democratic member of the powerful House oversight committee, told CNN that Congress itself should look into whether Murdoch’s company broke anti-bribery laws.

A Republican representative in New York, Peter King, has called on the FBI to look into claims that News of the World was involved in phone-hacking activities in the US. And several members of Congress have written to the US attorney general, Eric Holder, asking him to see whether News Corporation has breached the FCPA.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which has the authority to investigate companies under the FCPA, said any civil prosecution it undertook would only be made public if it asked the courts for an injunction prohibiting further violations of the law. No relationship is safe, no loyal bond strong enough for Rupert Murdoch who – looking more than the sum of his 80 years – is mounting a final battle to save the company he built from nothing.

His decision to throw Les Hinton to the wolves is his most dramatic move yet. For more than 50 years, as a journalist and then an executive, Hinton loyally served the Murdoch empire from its roots in Australia to the height of its power in New York. Now, in a desperate effort to save News Corporation’s most valuable assets – its 27 US broadcast licences and the 20th Century Fox movie studio – Murdoch is prepared to sacrifice one of his closest allies.

The problem for Murdoch is that every time he ditches a key executive, the flames of scandal flick ever closer to him.

Hinton was ditched because he was the crucial link between Murdoch’s valuable US businesses and the tainted operation in Britain. He was at the helm of NI – the holding company for his UK newspapers including the News of the World and the Times – when it seemed that everyone who was in sniffing distance of a significant news story found their phones being hacked. Questions were being raised about what Hinton knew about corrupt payments to London police officers: if he was shown to have been aware of them, that would be a felony in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The problem for News Corp now is that, at every stage, its attempts to contain this story have failed. The decision to close the News of the World was motivated in part to save the chief executive of NI, Rebekah Brooks: that decision bombed and Brooks resigned on Friday. But the departure of Brooks was not enough to contain the scandal in Britain, so Hinton, who has been more significant to the company’s fortunes and to Murdoch personally for far longer than Brooks, also left.

The inevitable next move for Murdoch is prolicide. His son James, appointed in 2007 as chairman and chief executive of News Corporation’s operations in Europe and Asia, based at News International’s headquarters in Wapping, east London, clings on – but only for now. In London, James Murdoch oversaw the response to the hacking scandal. He approved the £700,000 hush money paid to Gordon Taylor, the former chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association – a decision he has blamed on poor advice. (The legal director of News International, Tom Crone, was one of the executives of News International to leave this week.)

The departure of Hinton suggests that News Corporation has finally got to grips with the global significance of this story, but the worst is yet to come. The FBI has launched an investigation into accusations that News of the World journalists asked a former New York police officer for the phone records of relatives of 9/11 victims. If that toxic allegation is shown to have been true, one thing is certain: Fox News is finished, along with the rest of News Corporation as we know it.

The emotional supercharge of 9/11 in the US is many times greater than Milly Dowler in the UK – and look what happened here.

Commentators have compared the crisis to Watergate; Carl Bernstein, the former Washington Post reporter whose revelations helped depose a US president, says it is evident to him the events of the past week “are the beginning, not the end, of the seismic event”.

To coin a famous Murdoch newspaper headline: will the last person to leave News Corporation turn off the lights?

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