Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton—whose previous job was running the division of Rupert Murdoch's empire that is presently engulfed in an out-of-control conflagration of criminality, almost all of which stems back to Hinton's tenure there—has stepped down. We totally called this two years ago.
Hinton's departure comes roughly 10 or so hours after his successor at News International, Rebekah Brooks, announced her resignation this morning. Among Hinton's sins: He told what are now plainly viewed as lies to Parliament in 2007, claiming that instances of phone hacking at Murdoch papers were limited and had been handled. He also appears to have presided over a plan to pay off the victims of all those phone hacks that never happened to the tune of millions of dollars in hush money to try to keep the scandal from erupting. Didn't work.
Now Murdoch has lost his flagship British newspaper and two of his most trusted and beloved confidants. James Murdoch is praying that's enough to settle things down for now, because he's got to be next, right?
Here's Hinton's memo to Dow Jones staffers this afternoon explaining his resignation—and maintaining that he had no knowledge of the extent to the criminal behavior under his watch. First is an introductory note to staffers, followed by his resignation letter to Murdoch.
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2011 4:11 PM
Subject: farewell and thanks
Many of you will be aware by now that I resigned today from Dow Jones and News Corp. I attach below my resignation letter to Rupert Murdoch.
It is a deeply, deeply sad day for me.
I want you all to know the pride and pleasure I have taken working at Dow Jones for the past three-and-a-half years. I have never been with better, more dedicated people, or had more fun in a job.
News Corp under Rupert's brilliant leadership has proved a fitting parent of Dow Jones, allowing us to invest and expand as other media companies slashed costs. This support enabled us together to strengthen the company during a brutal economic downturn, developing fine new products – not to mention one of the world's great newspapers led by one of the world's great editors, my dear friend and colleague Robert Thomson.
However difficult this moment is for me, I depart with the certain knowledge that we have built the momentum to take Dow Jones on to ever greater things.
Good luck to you all and thank you.
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,
[Photo of Hinton via Getty Images]