United Kingdom: Heads fall as BBC plunges further into crisis

12 November 2012 – Presseurop The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian

The BBC faces the deepest crisis in its history with this weekend’s dramatic resignation of its director general, George Entwistle, after just 54 days in the job. Entwistle quit after it emerged on Friday that the BBC had wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine, a former senior Conservative party politician, in a story about paedophilia. This was the second scandal to have hit the BBC in recent weeks, after it emerged that Newsnight, its flagship current affairs programme, had hushed up allegations of paedophilia against a now dead TV star, Jimmy Savile.

As the British media eagerly dissects yet another high level resignation this morning, that of BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, and fulminates against Entwistle’s £450,000 (€562,000) payout, The Independent notes that the shenanigans of recent weeks have been an “absolute gift” for the “BBC's enemies” —

They are legion on the right, and have been thirsting for years to see the corporation well and truly skewered for what they are convinced is its pro-European, anti-Tory, and generally soft, soggy-left, bias.

The danger now is that of a kind of witch-hunt gathers pace, each resignation fuelling suspicion that someone else less deserving has been allowed to remain at his or her post, thus feeding the clamour for more victims.

Such sentiments are expressed by the Conservative party’s mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who in his weekly Daily Telegraph column lambasts the BBC for journalism of a standard “so shoddy, so cretinous”, and whose practititioners are now “interviewing each other in a ludicrous orgy of self-pity.”

The BBC owes it to McAlpine to grovel and keep grovelling until the public gets the message. Everyone associated with the “paedophile” segment on Newsnight should be sacked instantly.

Meanwhile The Guardian warns that —

... there needs to be a sense of proportion. Yes, this is a genuine crisis for the BBC. It is difficult to excuse some of its recent mistakes of journalism and management. But it is still a trusted, reliable and internationally respected organisation which will survive and, under the right leadership, thrive.

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