Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton Resigns

Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton has resigned. He is the latest casualty of the phone hacking and police bribe scandal that has engulfed parent company News Corp. For more, Michele Norris talks to NPR's David Folkenflik.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Now, the latest casualty of the phone hacking and police corruption scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Les Hinton was publisher of The Wall Street Journal and CEO of Dow Jones. Today, he resigned. The Murdoch media empire is seeking to contain the crisis on both sides of the Atlantic.

And NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik has been covering the story for us on both sides of the Atlantic. He joins us now from New York.

Hello again, David.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Hey, Michele.

NORRIS: We're talking with you a lot these days.

FOLKENFLIK: Yeah.

NORRIS: Earlier today, we heard about the resignation of Rebekah Brooks. She was head of the Murdoch newspapers in the U.K. She had become a lightning rod in all of this, but Les Hinton had been less visible. Why was he brought down?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, he was brought down because he was her predecessor. He led British newspapers for Murdoch's empire from the mid-'90s until 2007 when the first stages of the hacking scandal first came out. He testified before a parliamentary inquiry at that time and said we've done an extensive internal review. It appears to be limited to one reporter. That reporter went to jail, along with a private investigator. He attested that it was limited and contained.

He, again, made the same representations in 2009 when already over here in New York saying it seems to be contained when the Guardian newspaper said, actually, there's clear evidence to show that this was widespread hacking into royals, celebrities, soccer stars and the like. Now, it seems to have cost him his job atop one of the nation's - one of the world's leading newspapers.

NORRIS: Less Hinton had worked with Rupert Murdoch for 52 years, quite a loyal lieutenant. The crisis seems to be claiming the people that are closest to Rupert Murdoch. What does this resignation, this latest resignation, say about the situation for Murdoch and his son?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, I think there's peril on two tracks. One is the question of corporate control of News Corp., which is after all a publically traded company based here, you know, in the United States, that they've run essentially as a family enterprise and run with a great acclaim and a lot of profit. But, you know, their leadership has been called deeply into question, both that of Rupert Murdoch and his son, a senior executive, James Murdoch.

The second thing is that there's some peril from investigations. There are criminal - wide-ranging criminal investigations in the United Kingdom, and there's also the stirrings of early investigations here in the United States that if they came to fruition, that if they went deep and found either in the U.S. or even potentially in the United Kingdom criminal activity, such as the bribing of police officers, that could violate certain statutes that could trigger review of whether the corporation was entitled to own a lot of their television property.

NORRIS: A couple of quick questions before we let you go. Does it matter where the company is actually based? Are there questions of citizenship, and how that might play into the investigation? And what are the latest developments in this very fast-moving situation?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, it matters in terms of what kind of domain U.S. federal law has over the Murdochs and over News Corp. and assessing their activity both here and abroad, but it also matters in terms of whether or not the Murdochs could be compelled to testify in the U.K. They have finally submitted in the wall of a lot of political opposition there but couldn't - is questionable whether they could be formally required.

NORRIS: And any other developments later today?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, there have been a bunch of them. They've hired a new P.R. firm to help manage this crisis. There's going to be a full-page ad in major newspapers throughout the United Kingdom signed by Rupert Murdoch, apologizing.

He met with the parents of a young schoolgirl who had been abducted and killed nine years ago whose voicemails were hacked into. You know, and there's already the cost of closing the News of the World and losing BSkyB bid. So it means having to say you're sorry again and again and again.

NORRIS: Always good to talk to you. That's NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik talking about the resignation of Les Hinton, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal and CEO of Dow Jones.

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