The current BBC charter, implemented in 2007, has at its heart the duty to “inform, educate and entertain”. With the corporation currently engaging in an orgy of self flagellation over the vile behaviour of one of its former employees, one out of three isn’t bad.
Eddie Mair, a sometime front man for Newsnight discusses a Panorama investigation into a dropped report on Newsnight on the BBC Radio 4 PM programme. The Today programme will discuss the PM reporting of the Panorama investigation into the Newsnight programme that never was and will be covered by Newsnight prompting another Panorama investigation which will be covered by Newsnight after being leaked to the Today programme and then discussed on the PM programme. Thank goodness the new Director General of the BBC receives an adequate salary to ensure that he understands this stuff. Unfortunately the new Director General of the BBC is implicated in the alleged nonfeasance, misfeasance and possible malfeasance surrounding the conduct of a “celebrity” where talent was inversely proportional to ego and committed horrors under a smokescreen of charitable good. Not, of course, by aiding and abetting these crimes but by inaction and a desire to boost Christmas ratings by broadcasting “tributes” to the thankfully recently departed. Are you keeping up, Chris Patten?
The Panorama broadcast was brutally honest and the accounts of the victims heart wrenching, but behind the attempt to uncover the scale of the horror was an underlying theme of “it was a different culture back then” and the false dichotomy of “nobody suspected” but “everyone knew”. The corporation`s self harm was made more interesting by scheduling the broadcast in the same slot as Newsnight. Panorama is usually aired earlier in the evening. Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, who has “stepped aside”, must have had a busy evening of garden leave pressing the scapegoat button on the remote control. Meanwhile, DG George Entwistle was rehearsing memory loss before his appearance before a parliamentary select committee and carefully avoided mentioning his previous title as the bizarrely named “Director of Vision” at the BBC. As an assistant producer on Panorama and as deputy editor and then editor of Newsnight, George must surely have a nose for a big story. Strange then that he had no interest in a scandal involving serious allegations against a self promoting, self canonised “national treasure” made by hacks working on a programme renowned for its excellence in investigative journalism. George, before he embarked on a career as a Chris Grayling lookalike, was in charge of the bloody thing.
As the hours go by and more and more victims are finding the courage to speak out against the evil that they were forced to endure, this crisis for the BBC is likely to spread far beyond Broadcasting House. Quite how a talentless, northern oik went undetected raises some difficult questions for the corporation and for successive governments who need to explain what power and influence led to so many blind eyes being turned. The BBC obsessing over one individual is convenient in that it can further avoid reporting the incompetence of government and the illegality surrounding ministers and the sell-off of the NHS. More worryingly, even as rumours abound of the wider involvement of very senior members of the ruling elite, both living and dead, the BBC seem to be attempting the one bad apple defence. With the cabinet office desperately issuing injunctions, super injunctions and defamation orders against all and sundry who might be tempted to name names, this is now becoming very serious.
With so many reputations at stake and with so many careers at risk, it is unlikely that the truth will ever emerge unless more representatives with the courage of Tom Watson stand up to ask uncomfortable questions and we, the public, care more about the victims of terrible crimes and demand to know the secrets of the powerful. If it happened then, it`s happening now. How`s about that then, guy `n` gals?