Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BBC fiasco

This is complicated, so you'll need to pay attention.  The Director General of the BBC George Entwistle resigned today.  He resigned because an interviewee on the Newsnight program named a former Tory MP Lord McAlpine as one of the persons who sexually abused him when he was a 12 year old boy living at a home in South Wales.  He was describing how he and many other boys were driven to London to see the sights and then spent an evening drinking with older men, some of whom were MPs, who later had sex with them.  What was completely unacceptable was that the interviewer asked him if he knew who some of the men were and he described a man that others identified as Lord McAlpine.  However, after the show and the interview had been aired, he was shown a photo of Lord McAlpine and he said that he was not one of the men who abused him.  So the BBC recanted and apologized.  Meanwhile Lord McAlpine had publicly rejected that claim and had instituted civil court proceedings against the BBC.
George Entwistle was appointed Dir. Gen of the BBC only less than 2 months ago. His predecessor Mark Thompson had resigned after it had been discovered that BBC reporters had been breaking rules of accuracy and honesty in their reporting (he is now Managing Dir. of the New York Times Company).  It has since been discovered that the comedian Sir Jimmy Savile had been sexually abusing young girls for a period of over 20 years while working mainly for the BBC.  These acts had occured on BBC premises and elsewhere, notably in hospitals and clinics where Savile performed for charity and in several cases he was allowed access to hospitals at any time, including night time, when he was known to bring young girls into bedrooms without any supervision.  Until now some 300 people have reported to the police that they were abused by Savile and others at the BBC and elsewhere. The BBC program Newsnight, following reports of misconduct over the years, carried out an investigation into these allegations and was due to have run a program about Jimmy Savile late last year, but, the program was cancelled.  When Savile died in late October instead the BBC ran a laudatory commemoration of him.  
Now there are two investigations underway in the BBC, on how Jimmy Savile managed to get away with his illegal sexual activites in the BBC and why the Newsnight program that documented this was suspended.  Now there will be another investigation into how the Newsnight program allowed this allegation of sexual misconduct against a specific individual to be made on air, without any editorial checking.  Entwistle had to resign when it became clear that he knew nothing about this allegation a day after it had been reported in the media and had no editorial involvement whatsoever in the production of the Newsnight program, long after questions had been raised about their production values.  It seems that there was no journalistic checking whatsoever. 
Although the BBC is an independent Authority, that receives Government funding but is editorially independent, it nevertheless answers to a Board that is Governent appointed.  How this further scandal upon scandal will affect the future of the BBC is unknown, but one thing is clear, the BBC is not neutral in its reporting.  It is controlled by a left-wing, pro-Arab staff, and while missiles were raining down on Israel this week, the BBC reported the conflict from Gaza purely from the Palestinian point-of-view. 


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