It’s a good thing we have News Corp. as some relief to the debt limit debacle. Today Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, the subsidiary which oversees all of the British news outlets for the company, resigned, delivering one of the best send-off photographs in world history to boot.

Brooks announced her decision to News International staff in Wapping just before 10am on Friday, saying her resignation had been accepted by Rupert and James Murdoch. She said she no longer wanted to be a “focal point of the debate” surrounding the company’s future and reputation.

She stopped short of issuing a personal apology. “As chief executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place,” Brooks said in a statement.

“I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate.

The entire resignation letter is here. Brooks was maybe not quite as integral to News Corp.’s British media outlets as Roger Ailes is to Fox News, but it’s not far off.

Meanwhile, Murdoch is trying to contain the damage with a full-page ad running in British newspapers showing regret for the phone hacking scandal.

The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.

We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that has occurred.

We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals involved.

We regret not acting faster to sort things out.

I realise that simply apologising is not enough.

Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.

In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.

Sincerely,
Rupert Murdoch

This is a far cry from what Murdoch told one of his American newspaper outlets about the scandal. The tone shifted from penitent to defiant.

Rupert Murdoch has attacked Gordon Brown in a fierce defence of News Corporation’s handling of the phone hacking scandal. Murdoch accused British MPs of lying about allegations of corrupt practices at his newspapers.

In his first interview about the crisis that has engulfed his media empire, Murdoch said some MPs’ comments on the scandal were “total lies” and singled out Brown for criticism over the former prime minister’s accusation that News International was guilty of “law-breaking on an industrial scale”. […]

The chairman and chief executive of News Corp also defended the company’s handling of the crisis, claiming it had made only “minor mistakes”.

The damage to the company was “nothing that will not be recovered,” he said, adding that the company had a great reputation in the US.

He admitted “getting annoyed” about the negative media coverage of the scandal but said: I’ll get over it.”

Interesting the difference between what is said in the British and US press, ay? Unfortunately for Murdoch, the British can find the Wall Street Journal. They can even write stories about the interview. Like the one I just linked.

Murdoch and News Corp. seem to want to sink deeper in this crisis.

UPDATE: And now Les Hinton, the CEO of Dow Jones and a Murdoch right-hand man for 50 years, will resign, as reported in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal (which Hinton ran). This is an absolute meltdown.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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