Courtesy of Guido, who says the new Acting DG walked out of an interview with Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News. Well, he did physically walk off, but I didn’t see him run from a question, he just went back to work.
Perhaps if the ex DG had taken a similar attitude with the first story, perhaps this mess might not have become as great as it has.
For me there’s two serious questions to answered (and a third even more serious one that subsequently arises):
- Should the BBC have broadcast false allegations against Lord McAlpine? No, no, double and triple NO!!
- Should they have broadcast as yet to be grounded allegations against Jimmy Savile? Well their rivals on ITV thought they should. But they also think writing down a bunch of names off the internet and handing it to the PM on Live TV is good journalism too.
What should exercise people is the huge numbers of people coming forward to allege abuse at the hands of Savile now the old man is dead. The sheer weight of numbers is scary.
But, as of this point in time, we still don’t know if he is guilty of all, some or none of those alleged offenses. But we are all apparently sure the BBC should have outed him, presumably on the basis that dead men don’t sue.
On foot of that empty controversy the BBC’s accountability chain was gutted sufficiently to contribute to this second and deadly serious complaint.
And in the midst of it all is the opportunity cost of gazing at the BBC’s publicly-owned navel rather than looking at the wider problem of what we as a society can do about child sex abuse.
In truth no one wants to talk about that because it is painful and too awful to contemplate. Horse whipping the BBC is much more fun.
At some stage we need to have a grown up conversation about the sexual abuse of children and how we might create the best possible conditions for preventing, detecting and punishing it.
Lord McAlpine must have his day in court, but as it stands now, we’re mostly finding out about horrendous abuse, long years after the victims have spent most of their adult lives living with the stigma and the guilt all on their own.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty