November 8, 2011
Now, new details tucked into a New York Magazine profile of Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth seem to confirm that Bloomberg set the timeline for Klein’s departure — and suggest that Klein’s decision to head to Murdoch’s News Corporation was hastily made.
From the article:
On Sunday morning, November 7, 2010, Michael Bloomberg called Klein and told him that he would be announcing that Klein was resigning that week. Klein and the mayor had been discussing Klein’s departure from Tweed Courthouse for months—but Klein was still taken aback at the timing of the decision. He had been in informal talks with several Wall Street firms, but nothing had materialized. Without a job lined up, he “panicked,” according to a person familiar with the matter. So Klein called Rupert. The two had been meeting on and off, and Rupert agreed to appoint him to News Corp.’s board of directors and put him in charge of an education division that News Corp. would launch. “We all found out [about Klein] that Monday,” says another senior executive. “Some of us had to scramble; you just can’t put someone on the board like that.”
UPDATE: DOE press secretary Natalie Ravitz said New York Magazine’s account mischaracterized Klein’s departure.
“Joel had already told the mayor he planned to leave — the mayor asked him to wait until he found a successor, which Joel did,” Ravitz said. “Any notion that he was pushed out is absolutely untrue.”
The magazine story also suggests that Klein has been a divisive figure at News Corp, where this summer he headed an internal investigation into the company’s phone-hacking scandal.
With [NewsCorp general counsel Lon] Jacobs being squeezed out of the picture, Rupert increasingly turned to former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein for legal advice. When Klein was hired last November, Rupert’s seniormost executives were caught unawares—it was an impetuous act by Rupert Murdoch. …
While Jacobs and others advocated for an outside investigation of the scandal, Klein instead pushed for News Corp. to hire the powerful D.C. law firm Williams and Connolly—where his wife once worked—to conduct an inquiry. Brendan Sullivan, a senior partner at the firm, headed up the inquiry. Sullivan conducted interviews with James and Brooks and executives in London, but didn’t push for a more probing review that might have alerted senior News Corp. executives to the extent of the scandal, according to executives with knowledge of the report. In June, Sullivan delivered his report at a News Corp. board meeting and declared that both James and Brooks were “clean,” according to another executive familiar with its contents.
The tensions between Jacobs and Klein came to a head that same month. Jacobs walked into president and COO Chase Carey’s office and told him News Corp. was in breach of his contract because Rupert was using Klein like a general counsel. News Corp. agreed to let Jacobs go with four years left on his multimillion-dollar contract.