Brooks is gone, but real story is just beginning

Jul 15, 2011

First Reaction: Rebekah Brooks’s resignation is too little, too late and – for some - too sad

Rebekah Brooks had been fighting against calls for her resignation ever since the news broke on Monday, July 4 – eleven long days ago - that the voicemail of murder victim Milly Dowler had been hacked while she was editor of the News of the World.

Today, she finally quit, saying: "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."
It's far too late. "Rebekah Brooks succumbed finally to the pressure," writes Roy Greenslade, former Daily Mirror editor. "It was the right decision but it came far too late. Rupert Murdoch should have requested her resignation on the day that he discovered she was editor of the News of the World when Milly Dowler's phone was hacked."
Peter Preston, former editor of the Guardian, said the resignation was "surprising only in that it didn't happen 10 days ago". Labour MP Chris Bryant went a step further: "I think she should have gone a very long time ago. Frankly, she should have gone when she said she had paid police officers for information back in 2003."
The problem is wider than Rebekah. Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was "right that Rebekah Brooks has finally taken responsibility" but stressed that "this is not just about one individual but about the culture of an organisation. Rupert Murdoch says that News Corp has handled these allegations 'extremely well'. He still hasn't apologised to the innocent victims of hacking. He clearly still doesn't get it."
Yet she has her supporters. A handful of News International journalists have voiced sadness at the ending of Brooks's two-decade career with the company. "I like Rebekah Brooks," Times food critic Giles Conran tweeted. "She's a good person, and i'm sad that she's gone. And I don't give a flying fuck what Twitter thinks."
Sunday Times writer Camilla Long expressed similar sentiments: "Quite shaken. I'm very sad about Rebekah, a true inspiration and supporter of women in journalism. But she is right that it could not go on."
This is not the end. "I wonder if it's too late?" asked the Guardian's Matt Wells. "The credibility of so many senior executives in News Corporation is now under serious question… With parliamentary hearings next week in the UK, the hawks circling in the US, and Rupert Murdoch appearing to have lost his legendary sure footing, I am absolutely sure now that we're only at the beginning, not the end."
Peter Preston agreed that this story will keep running: "Can the biggest news organisation in Britain and one of the biggest in the rest of the world now get a grip of the news that it is making and how to control it? If it can't - and by golly it isn't - then you are scratching you head about the future."

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