The BBC is in a dither over its coverage of one of the Beeb’s own.
Primer via the New York Times:
LONDON — The story seemed perfect for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s hard-hitting “Newsnight” program: a nationally beloved television host, it seemed, had also been a pedophile who for decades preyed on young teenagers in hospitals, in children’s homes — and in the halls of the BBC itself.
“Newsnight” found women willing to go on air to declare that the host, Jimmy Savile, who died last year, had abused them when they were young. But last December, as the segment neared completion, it was abruptly canceled by the editor in charge, who said there was not enough evidence to justify going ahead.
That decision, and the BBC’s earlier failure over four decades to investigate rumors about Mr. Savile’s behavior, is now the subject of three independent investigations. But they are just the latest and most explosive elements in a scandal that seems to widen by the hour, fed by a ferocious British tabloid press angry at the BBC’s coverage of the hacking scandal and eager, for a change, to write about misdeeds other than its own.
Meanwhile, the BBC struggles to write about its own misdeeds.
From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
LONDON—The British Broadcasting Corp. faced a ballooning crisis Monday as a scandal over late BBC host Jimmy Savile’s alleged pedophilia pivoted to focus on why the BBC’s flagship “Newsnight” program scrapped an explosive report on the topic last year.
The BBC announced Monday that “Newsnight” Editor Peter Rippon would “step aside” while an independent investigation examines why “Newsnight” scrapped the report.
The British broadcaster also assailed Mr. Rippon’s explanation of what happened as “inaccurate or incomplete in some respects,” issuing three corrections to an Oct. 2 blog post that Mr. Rippon, 47 years old, wrote to explain his reasons for killing the report.
The moves came hours before another BBC program, “Panorama,” was scheduled to broadcast a show accusing Mr. Rippon and others at the BBC of misleading the public about the scrapped “Newsnight” segment.
There’s no bottom to that well at the BBC. But there’s also a local angle, as the Boston Herald’s Frank Quaratiello noted
this last week:
A pedophile sex abuse scandal involving the late TV host Jimmy Savile is the talk of Britain, and it’s putting former BBC boss Mark Thompson, the incoming CEO of the Boston Globe’s parent New York Times [NYT] Co., in a very tough position before he even takes over in the Big Apple next month.
The timing is awful for the Times Co., which tapped Thompson in August before the scandal erupted following an ITV report about allegations of misconduct over six decades by Savile, who died last year at age 84.
With the exception of a stint as CEO of Channel 4 from 2002 to 2004, Thompson has been at the BBC, mainly in its news division, since he started as a production trainee in 1979.
And now he’s at the New York Times, which means he’s at the Boston Globe.
Look for the Herald to pound that connection six ways from Sunday’s edition in the next few weeks.