Mark Hurd

Who can right the ship at News Corp?

July 18, 2011: 9:10 AM ET

While some suggest that News Corp. board member Tom Perkins is the company's best hope for turning a new leaf at the beleaguered company, his track record raises serious doubts.

By Eleanor Bloxham, contributor

Tom Perkins

Tom Perkins, co-founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and News Corp board member.

FORTUNE -- The "right tone at the top" and "good governance." Although these phrases are often brushed off as meaningless, in the midst of crisis, these phrases sound both sweet and powerful.

When a major crisis hits, as is currently the case with News Corp (NWS), it is no longer possible to simply perform touch-up repairs to a company's governance practices or tone. These things often need to be remade whole cloth.

And that is why it is curious that any current board member would be considered apt to fix News Corp's governance woes.

It has been suggested that, to fix governance at the beleaguered company, News Corp. board member Tom Perkins is shareholders' "best hope."

But would he make the best choice? He's been on the News Corp board since 1996 and he has already had 15 years to influence governance there.  He sits on all three of News Corp's board committees, the only director with that distinction. Certainly, he has had some level of responsibility for the tone at the top.

A less-than-stellar record at Hewlett-Packard

Perkins, who was a director at HP (HPQ) before his resignation in May 2006, has said that he helped recruit Mark Hurd to the CEO spot at that company. Perkins also helped Hurd get a News Corp board seat. (Hurd left the News Corp board after his resignation from HP amid an HP board investigation into his ethical conduct.)

Prior to Hurd's scandal and fall from grace, Perkins was at the center of the earlier HP pretexting, or spying, scandal, which began as an investigation into leaks of confidential information to reporters. More

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