Hinton, a close associate of Murdoch's, had been brought in to oversee Dow Jones shortly after News Corp. completed the high-profile acquisition in 2007. He appears to be the first casualty of the phone-hacking scandal on this side of the Atlantic, following multiple resignations, arrests, and the closing of the 168-year-old News of the World in the U.K.
In his resignation letter to Murdoch, Hinton wrote: "That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances, I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World."
While Hinton denied any knowledge of wrongdoing during his tenure at News International, his sudden resignation -- coming a day after the FBI opened a criminal probe into News Corp. -- suggests the scandal may develop an American dimension as well.
On Thursday a source with the FBI told reporters the Bureau was investigating allegations that NOTW hacked into the voice mails of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their family members. The FBI's New York field office launched the criminal probe in response to letters from members of Congress and after consulting with the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York.
On Wednesday, a letter from U.S. Representative Peter T. King (R-NY) to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller was circulated to the press, reading in part: "If these allegations are proven true, the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various federal statutes related to corruption of public officials and prohibitions against wiretapping. Any person found guilty of this purported conduct should receive the harshest sanctions available under law."
Also on Wednesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., called for a new investigation into the practices of the shuttered tabloid -- and possibly other News Corp. properties -- here in the United States.
In an official statement, Rockefeller explained: "I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe."