Well, it’s come to this. The New York Times is covering for its new CEO, who may have covered for a serial pedophile. Who covered for another serial pedophile.
In the late 1990s, Paul Francis Gadd — better known as Gary Glitter, the British Elvis — was exposed as a pedophile and fled the country on his sailboat. He sailed to Cambodia, continued his sexual abuse of children, and was deported to Vietnam, where he again resumed it, and was again deported.
In the early 1990s, radio and TV personality Jimmy Savile had been knighted by both Queen Elizabeth and Pope John Paul II for his humanitarian work, which included visiting orphanages and working to uplift children. It was like knighting Howard Stern, but the British had seen nothing yet. When Glitter returned to London in disgrace, Sir Jimmy aggressively defended him, stating of the police:
They went into the hard drive, saw all these dodgy pictures and told the police and the police then “Oh we’ve got a famous person. … Oh my goodness, yeah we’ll have them.” But Gary has not sold ‘em, has not tried to sell ‘em, not tried to show them in public or anything like that. It were for his own gratification. Whether it was right or wrong is, of course, it’s up to him as a person. But they didn’t do anything wrong but they are then demonized. If you said to that copper, what’s Gary Glitter done wrong? Well nothing really. He’s just sat at home watching dodgy films.
Savile’s defense had a selfish motivation — during the previous two years he himself had been involved in two separate scandals that unsuccessfully implicated Savile himself in having sex with minors. Savile passed away last year, but a month ago his scurrilous past finally caught up with him. British police are now investigating hundreds of complaints of sexual abuse by Savile of children — including numerous instances of misconduct while visiting the orphanages.
Savile was also the Russian Dick Clark, a major figure on the BBC with his Top of the Pops TV show for decades, He was ubiquitous on many other BBC programs as well. So perhaps one shouldn’t have been too surprised to learn that the BBC iced an investigative report about Savile’s sexual abuse, resulting in yet another brewing national scandal.
And this brings us to Mark Thompson.
A BBC lifer and its director-general from 2004 until earlier this year, Thompson was named CEO of the foundering New York Times Company effective next month. The Gray Lady herself has now reported: Thompson had discussions with BBC management about the story on Savile that never was, before it wasn’t. The one he denied knowing anything about, except that he did.
In bizarre fashion, the New York Times reporters who interviewed Thompson at the Times’ headquarters allowed him to refer only to anonymous “senior management in BBC News” that he spoke with about Savile. This, of course, freed the Times from any obligation to follow up with those figures and to find out whether Thompson was telling the truth about saying nothing to them about killing the story on Savile. Uncovering problems with his statement would, of course, damage his new prospects in Manhattan.
Even more bizarre, the story refers only to an anonymous “New York Times spokesman” when reporting the paper’s statement that it still expected Thompson to join the paper next month, and makes no attempt to grill that spokesman about the implications.
The Times’ own public editor is highly dubious about Thompson and the Times’ coverage of him. The comments on her blog post overwhelmingly call for Thompson’s ouster. She specifically challenged the paper’s reporters, stating:
I hope the Times rises to the challenge and thoroughly reports what it finds. The Times might start by publishing an in-depth interview with Mr. Thompson exploring what exactly he knew, and when, about what happened at the BBC.
That’s exactly what the paper did not do. Instead, its “reporting” only helps Thompson and the paper sweep the whole mess under the carpet.