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A corrupt British newspaper empire takes another hit as James Murdoch steps down

And the scandal deepens.  Rupert Murdoch's son, James, has stepped down from his post as executive chairman of the News Corps' massive British newspaper empire, as this New York Times story reports.   The younger Murdoch claimed to know nothing of the phone-hacking practices (along with charges of payoffs to public officials) that have resulted in the biggest newspaper scandal in recent memory.  The investigation that resulted in the closing of the News of the World and the firing of various high-level editors and executives, has spread in recent weeks to a second Murdochnewspaper, the Sun.

NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik's commentary on Twitter this morning was among the first to make sense of the move.  He wrote:  "James Murdoch relinquishes leadership in UK amid challenges to his own integrity."  Folkenflik noted that the record is full of conflicting statements about what the younger Murdoch knew about the practices -- systematically and illegally hacking into the voicemail messages of just about anybody who is anybody in Great Britain —that have come under fire.  His story on NPR yesterday provides some background helpful in understanding today's development.

The British newspaper, The Independent, among many others, has been harshly critical of James Murdoch's continuation as chief of the newsaper division.  This editorial describes what's going on in the scandal and the various police and government investigations. 

Now the question is whether the scandal will cross the Atlantic to Murdoch's U.S. media holdings, which include Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.   This Huffington Post piece provides some insight.

For journalists who are sickened by what Murdoch's British newspapers have done and who believe passionately in journalistic integrity, this development is far from unwelcome.  Who knows? Maybe there actually are consequences for corruption, even at the highest levels.  Maybe wealth and power don't equal being above the law. 

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