Which is the worse crime, would you say: eavesdropping on celebrities’ answerphones? Or hosting and covering up for a ruthless predatory paedophile ring — led by your biggest, most heavily promoted star — over a period of four decades?
Mm, me too. In fact, I’d say the Savile affair is as close as we’ll ever get to proving that God really hates the BBC. I mean, the timing is far too perfect to be coincidental, isn’t it? First we get Leveson — essentially a stitch-up by the BBC and the Guardian to entrench the power of the bien-pensant establishment, increase regulation and destroy the free market (especially Rupert Murdoch). Then, just when the tofu-eating turbine-huggers think they’ve won — zing! — a lightning bolt from heaven in the form of a scandal so sordid, so vast, so compromising that it makes Leveson look about as inconsequential as gossip overheard at the laundrette while waiting for your smalls to finish their tumbledry.
Full marks, obviously, to ITV for setting the ball rolling earlier this month with Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile. But full marks, too, to Panorama (Monday) for a belated follow-up as hard-hitting and brutally frank and riveting as any documentary I’ve seen. Some anti-BBC types on Twitter seemed to think that this was just another weaselly exercise in BBC face-saving. Really? I thought it was savage: utterly, grippingly, almost unbearably so, like watching a once-revered pack leader suddenly stumbling and being torn to pieces by the junior wolves.
Usually when the BBC does self-criticism, it’s just an exercise in faux-openness and pretend accountability. On Radio 4’s Feedback, for example, listeners are permitted to be heard raging about vital matters such as the use of intrusive background music on documentaries; then a producer comes on to respond that intrusive background music is a matter of taste. Meanwhile, the issues where the BBC is seriously, dangerously at fault — its ingrained political correctness, its grotesque institutional bias on everything from Israel to ‘climate change’ — continue to be swept under the carpet.
Read the rest at the Spectator.
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