Rebekah Brooks' arrest: How damaging will it be to News Corp.?

Rupert Murdoch's widening phone-hacking and bribery scandal takes down his top U.K. lieutenant, dealing his media empire another body blow

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks
(Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The seemingly non-stop scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch's media companies claimed its two most high-profile trophies on Sunday, with the surprise arrest of Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks, and the resignation of Britain's top police official, Sir Paul Stephenson. Brooks — who resigned as chief executive of News International, Murdoch's British subsidiary, on Friday — was accused of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing cops. Her arrest is the 10th of the scandal, and the most personally compromising for Murdoch. What happens now?

Murdoch is in for the fight of his life: The arrest of Brooks proves that the problems at News Corp. aren't the fault of a few bad apples, as Murdoch has been claiming, says Ken Auletta in The New Yorker. The "entire rotten." And with politicians shunning Murdoch (and his money and influence), even "more apples will drop in coming days," no matter what Murdoch does. He just "doesn’t have enough fingers to stop the gushing water" from this leaky dam.

"What Murdoch faces now"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Brooks' arrest may actually help: It's appropriately cynical, says Alex Massie at The Daily Beast, to ask why Brooks was arrested for police bribery now, two days before she's scheduled to testify before Parliament alongside Murdoch and his son and heir apparent, James Murdoch. Now Brooks can stonewall any question on the grounds that the matter is under police investigation. Murdoch and Scotland Yard must both be relieved.

"Rebekah Brooks is arrested"

Murdoch will bleed... but survive: "Don't feel bad for Rupert Murdoch," says Jack Shafer at Slate. It's crises like this that drive him. Maybe he felt a twinge when he had to "jettison his best friend," Brooks. But that's nothing compared to what he'll feel when he has to "sacrifice his favorite son," James, to save his family empire. Luckily, he has two ambitious children, Lachlan and Elisabeth, waiting in the wings who are "clean as a Murdoch can be."

"Release the Lachlan!"

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.