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Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Savile story....according to the BBC Local Radio Forum

Jimmy Savile was guilty. And the BBC is guilty over an almighty cover up.

Well, the evidence seems to be pretty overwhelming on the first point (and you can't defame the dead). But on the second point, well the jury should surely be out until the many investigations are complete. But not on the BBC Local Radio Forum - where there is no smoke without fire.

The Newsnight investigation? A definite cover up to protect the subsequent tribute programme.

George Entwistle? He knew about the probe but didn't ask questions, so is equally culpable.

The BBC corporately? It was brushed under the carpet for decades.

I would hate to be a defendant in a case where Tiger or Darcysarto were members of the jury. They'd judge you on your appearance, rather than waiting to see/hear the evidence.

Let me give you just one example. The BBC Newsnight investigation that was dropped

The editor, Peter Rippon, took to his blog to explain why they did not run the story in the end. You can read it here. To summarise, Newsnight don't normally do celebrity exposes but in this case were looking at institutional failure as the victim alleged she was told they didn't proceed because Savile was too old and frail. She also said she was certain the BBC hadn't a clue what was allegedly going on. The CPS contradicted this, and the victim was unable to provide any evidence of what she said. So it was classic "she says, he says" and, given that the BBC doesn't run stories based on rumour and speculation, that was the end of the investigation .

But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and, oh boy, do they love it at the BBC Local Radio Forum! They are convinced that there must have been pressure from above within the BBC.

Darcysarto states:  Mr. Rippon may like to reflect that he was so busy looking for the angle that he lost sight of the real story. He goes on: He didn't need an angle or hindsight to know this was one of the biggest scandals of the last half century.

Tiger sticks the knife in as well: "Perhaps the question should be how Peter Rippon as a human being acted? or failed to act.." 

Next, they turn their guns on Kevin Marsh, Editor of the BBC's College of Journalism, when he dares to suggest there is no way there will have been any pressure to drop the piece, as commentators and the Daily Mail have suggested. You can read it here. He also points out a few myths that are doing the rounds, such as the fact that there was no 12 minute film ready to run , nor a script. He also has a bit of a pop at the tabloids for double standards, pointing out they didn't carry out their own investigations. Now, seeing as he has worked at a senior level at the BBC, and Tiger and Darcysarto have not, you'd think his views would carry some weight? Oh no! They take to his blog, with Darcysarto claiming that because he had revealed in a book that he was once briefly pressured over a story, it could well have happened in this case as well. Tiger accuses him of discrediting one of the witnesses, when in fact all he has done has point out that she failed to produce the letter from the police to corroborate her version of events.

What is even worse is that both Tiger and Darcysarto don't let readers of BBC Local Radio Forum reach their own judgement about all of this. Instead, they only post the points they made to him, rather than including his responses! How one sided can you get?

The fact is that, in journalism, all sorts of investigations happen all the time but many of them never see the light of day because they can't be stood or up or proven.

Because of editorial independence, news programmes within the BBC don't choose to share information with each other, and jealously guard stories. This is why the information was not shared with other areas.

And I have no doubt the reason George Entwistle wasn't given the detail about the Newsnight investigation is to make sure he didn't prejudice himself, should he have to carry out a subsequent investigation.

It is not the duty of BBC journalists to worry about the reputation of the BBC corporately.This is to protect their editorial independence. And they don't. Many of them are the BBC's biggest critics. Sadly this is lost on Darcysarto and Tiger - two people who claim to be the voice of BBC listeners/viewers yet have no understanding - at all - of how it works.

The bizarre thing about all of this is that both Darcysarto and Tiger choose to praise particular programmes that have been questioning the BBC about this issue. And that is exactly why it is so ludicrous to suggest there was any type of Newsnight cover up. As Kevin Marsh states, the BBC does not operate in this way. Unlike other media organisations, which rarely run critical stories about their parent companies.

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