The stunning revelation this week that Murdoch's News of The World minions allegedly hacked not just the voicemails of celebrities, athletes and members of the royal family, but also a murdered schoolgirl's voicemails, has catapulted the long-simmering story in Britain where Parliament scheduled emergency hearings for today.
Murdoch's now facing extraordinary media and political pressure and may be forced to fire a handful of his top executives, especially if he wants to see his acquisition of the satellite television company BSkyB gain final approval from the British government.
One key News Corp. figure now under immense pressure is Rebekah Brooks, who edited News of The World when the murdered schoolgirl's voicemail was hacked. (Brooks denies having any knowledge of the hack.) Hinton is also under renewed scrutiny because the longtime Murdoch confidant was executive chairman of Murdoch's newspapers in Britain at the time when the alleged rampant hacking attacks took place.
Also, Hinton oversaw the initial News Corp. investigation into the allegations and found no evidence of widespread wrongdoing within the company. It's an investigation that, in light of recent developments, now looks to have been incompetent at best, and a fraud at worst.
Notes The Week:
If it were to reach up, through Rebekah Brooks and [former Murdoch editor] Andy Coulson, to their former executive chairman, Les Hinton, it is likely that Rupert Murdoch, already heartily sick of the whole mess surrounding his British Sunday tabloid, would be forced to take action at his most prized possession, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, where Hinton is now CEO.
And no, in its coverage of the News Corp. hacking story today, the WSJ did not mention its CEO's connection to the scandal.