Report: News Corp. execs bracing for possible James Murdoch departure

Joe Pompeo
Media Reporter
The Cutline

If things already weren't looking good for James Murdoch, they're looking even worse now that the phone-hacking scandal is picking up steam again.  Speculation is rising that the 39-year-old son of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch may have attempted to cover up the misdeeds of journalists at the embattled company.

In the latest development, Reuters' Peter Lauria hears that top executives are now bracing for the possibility that the younger Murdoch might relinquish his role as the media conglomerate's deputy chief operating officer and chief executive of News International, the European division that published the scandal-tainted British tabloid News of the World before shutting it down in July.

Lauria reports:

News Corp's senior management is starting to think about what the company might do if James Murdoch stepped aside, sources inside and close to the global media empire said.

With Rupert Murdoch's younger son under increasing pressure from the phone-hacking scandal enveloping the company, News Corp executives want to be prepared if he wants to "take a breather," one News Corp source said.

"The company is still trying to operate as if James isn't going anywhere," said another high-ranking insider. "But everyone is thinking about what will happen if he has to step aside."

News Corp denied the chatter, telling Lauria the murmurs about Murdoch stepping down were "absolutely not true." You can read more at Reuters.