Rupert Murdoch Gave Absurd $2.7 Million Pay-Off to Hack EditorS

Poor Rebekah Brooks! The disgraced former News of the World editor and News International executive, who oversaw the paper and its parent company while it hacked into the phones of murder victims, resigned in July and was arrested a few days later. She must be destitute! Except for the $2.7 million, chauffeured limousine, and office that her boss Rupert Murdoch gave her.

According to The Guardian, Rebekah Brooks seems to have "quit" only in the loosest and most technical sense: she still has an office, still has use of her company car and driver, and was given enough money to last her a few years, at least. Guess it's another thing to ask James about:

The decision to give Brooks an office will inevitably be raised on Thursday when James Murdoch, the 38-year-old son of Rupert and chairman of News International, returns to Westminster to answer questions from the Commons culture, media and sport select committee about his knowledge of illegal activities by his employees.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who helped lead the fight to expose the phone-hacking practices carried out by News of the World journalists, queried the company's decision. He said: "It is remarkably curious that such an generous package is given to Ms Brooks when others have been cut loose. It is almost as if she hasn't really left the company. I am sure Mr Murdoch will want to explain the decision to his shareholders."

Of course, it's not surprising that Brooks got away with so many perks—if there's one thing everyone knows about Murdoch, it's that he values loyalty, and there have been few employees more loyal than Brooks, who started as a secretary at News of the World. What happens to those people—employees and family members—who are less than loyal? Gabriel Sherman has a good anecdote in this week's New York magazine profile of Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth:

In a 2001 Vanity Fair story about Liz and [husband Matthew] Freud's courtship, Freud was quoted openly mocking Rupert. The article infuriated Rupert. A story later circulated through Freud's London office that one night, Freud got home and couldn't get a signal on his TV. When he called the BSkyB customer-service line to ask about the problem, the representative responded coldly, "We've been instructed not to turn on this account."

[Guardian, image via AP]