Beyond whether Brooks and Coulson knew of the illegal activities—and they surely did—they created and fostered the culture that led to them, as did the executives above them, from Les Hinton on up. Here’s Glenn Mulcaire, one of the private investigators the paper employed to hack into phones:

“Working for the News of the World was never easy. There was relentless pressure. There was a constant demand for results. I knew what we did pushed the limits ethically. But, at the time, I didn’t understand that I had broken the law at all.”

And former NotW journalist Paul McMullan, who says Brooks directly knew about the hacking, said this:

McMullan also spokes of the pressure NoW journalists were under — a reference to a statement made earlier by Mulcaire in which he said their was a “constant demand for results”.

He said: “You’re only as good as your next story, they used to do a byline count at the end of the year and if you didn’t have enough it was goodbye.”

This was a corporate culture gone mad. When these things happen it’s not because a couple of folks at the bottom happen to go off the rails together. It almost always comes from the top. A good amount of the responsibility for the crime, but especially the coverup, has to fall on Murdoch.

In just one week, the UK will decide whether to give Rupert Murdoch an even tighter stranglehold on its media by allowing him to purchase a majority stake in the dominant satellite TV provider BSkyB.

If Murdoch can increase his power even after a disastrous week like this when the hacking scandal suddenly went viral, there’s going to be no stopping the man.

Further Reading:

Murdoch’s Hacking Scandal Gets Much Worse. The Guardian shows News Corporation at an all-time low (and that’s saying something)

Murdoch’s Hacking Scandal. Two stories cover the political, police, and press angles on the News Corp. coverup

The News Corp. Coverup. Memory-impaired execs, payments to key figures, and Keystone Kops

Anybody There? Why the UK’s phone-hacking scandal met media silence

A Times Must-Read on the News Corp. Hacking Scandal

Journalism Scandal at News Corp. A peek into Murdoch’s news culture.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.