News Corp. names new general counsel
One of the media industry's more demanding jobs -- top lawyer for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. -- has been filled.
Gerson Zweifach, 58, most recently a partner at the white-shoe law firm of Williams & Connolly, has been tapped as senior executive vice president and group general counsel for News Corp., the media giant whose holdings include the Fox network, movie studio 20th Century Fox, cable channel Fox News and newspapers here and abroad. Zweifach, who signed a three-year contract, will be based in News Corp.'s New York headquarters and will report to Murdoch.
"Throughout his distinguished career, Gerson has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s leading litigators and a staunch protector of the First Amendment," Murdoch said in a statement.
Zweifach will get his hands dirty quickly in his new job. News Corp. is under assault by British lawmakers over a phone hacking scandal at its now-shuttered News of the World tabloid. The U.S. Department of Justice has also been conducting its own probe into whether there is any evidence of wrongdoing by News Corp. papers here.
The hire fills a big hole at News Corp. The position has been open since the surprise resignation of previous general counsel Lawrence "Lon" Jacobs last June. Jacobs, who was one of Murdoch's most trusted advisors for many years, left after clashing with executive vice president Joel Klein.
Klein, the former head of education for New York City, joined the media giant last year to head education initiatives. He is a lawyer himself and a former antitrust chief at the Justice Department and bumped up against Jacobs in the corridors of News Corp.
Jacobs' position was being temporarily filled by Janet Nova, News Corp.'s deputy general counsel. It was Nova's quick thinking that prevented Murdoch from getting his face covered in pie when he appeared before Parliament last summer regarding the hacking debacle at News of the World. Nova stuck her iPad in front of Murdoch's face, which blocked a cream pie that was thrown by comedian and rabble rouser Jonnie Marbles, while the mogul's wife threw a punch at the attacker.
-- Joe Flint