It was bad enough that hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters stopped by his Fifth Avenue home on Tuesday to chant slogans about the unfairness of the tax system. The media mogul’s troubles also grew as he had to deal with a second UK newspaper scandal: The publisher of the Wall Street Journal Europe, Andrew Langhoff, resigned amid allegations that he had cut a deal to artificially inflate circulation figures by 41%. And that story began to unravel just as the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee said it will interrogate Murdoch’s right-hand man Les Hinton on October 24 as part of its investigation into Murdoch’s other UK newspaper problem — the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal. This matter has already begun to loom large as investors prepare to converge in Los Angeles next Friday for News Corp’s annual shareholder meeting. Advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services, Egan Jones, and Glass Lewis asked stock owners to reject several company board nominees — including Murdoch’s two sons, James and Lachlan — for failing to get to the bottom of the hacking allegations before the company was forced to close NOTW.
The Guardian reported that The Journal agreed to prominently list the names of companies that bought copies of the paper for a nickel or less and then distribute them to college students. (That means most of the papers probably weren’t read.) The Guardian says that “Senior executives in New York, including Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistle blower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistle blower was then made redundant.” That prompted a testy response from The Journal that Langhoff resigned “because of a perceived breach of editorial integrity, not because of circulation programs.” What’s more, the “whistle blower” was “first investigated by the company because of concerns around his business dealings.” As for the circulation program, although it was “legitimate and appropriate,” the company says that “we were not comfortable with the appearance of the programs and no longer have relationships with any of the third parties directly involved in these agreements.” The outside firm that certifies newspaper circulation figures says it will investigate.