Sandusky on the Thames

The New York Times reports, “Silence on Abuse Reports Plunges BBC Into Scandal”:

As host of the television programs “Jim’ll Fix It” and “Top of the Pops,” Jimmy Savile was one of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s best-known figures in a four-decade career spanning the 1960s to the mid-1990s. But now he is the subject of numerous posthumous investigations into whether he sexually abused perhaps dozens of underage girls, some of them on BBC property.

The scandal has engulfed the corporation, which failed to investigate rumors or take seriously accusations about his behavior at the time. Perhaps even more damningly, it canceled a segment about the allegations that was scheduled to be broadcast last December on “Newsnight,” an influential evening current-affairs program.

About the same time, the corporation broadcast three tributes to Mr. Savile, who died last year at 84.

The BBC has said that the “Newsnight” segment was canceled not out of concern about the corporation’s reputation, but for “editorial reasons,” because the accusations could not be substantiated. But on Friday, its new director general, George Entwistle, announced that an independent panel would investigate whether any BBC executives improperly pressured “Newsnight.”

The director general of the BBC at the time the segment was canceled was Mark Thompson, the incoming president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company. In a letter sent to members of Parliament on Friday, a BBC spokeswoman said neither Mr. Thompson nor Mr. Entwistle was involved in the “Newsnight” decision.


As Jonathan S. Tobin writes at Commentary, “It’s Not Just the Church and Penn State”:

The unfolding scandal about sexual abuse at the BBC can be viewed as yet another blow to the image of the media. The network’s suppression of a story about a longtime show host’s alleged crimes ought to put a fork in the myth of the Beeb being the gold standard for impartiality and integrity. The fact that the BBC killed a story on its “Newsnight” broadcast while at the same time running tributes to the late Jimmy Saville, the man accused of molesting and raping several teenagers will haunt it for a long time to come.

Veteran British journalist Julie Burchill dubs the network, “Dirty Uncle Beeb”:

As the revelations over the BBC sleaze scandal continue, I find myself thinking – as you do – of the Greek myth of the Augean Stables.

The cleansing of these was one of the Labours of Hercules and the phrase has come to symbolise an accumulation of corruption or filth almost beyond redemption.

“Auntie Beeb”. Even the nickname seems sinister now — and massively inappropriate. If the BBC is any relation at all, it’s surely an uncle — a dirty uncle, probably not even a relation but a “friend” of the family, who tells you that it’s just your little secret between the two of you.

* * * * * *

Jimmy Savile’s sickening abuse of already damaged girls was apparently an open secret and a running joke at the BBC, and it wasn’t until a few brave survivors came forward to testify that the corporation — which, remember, is funded by us — seemed inclined to do anything about it. New director-general George Entwistle should be sacked for admitting that he allowed tributes to this repellant creature to be broadcast while being aware of the shelved Newsnight investigation.


The New York Times article quoted above notes, “The allegations have been around for years, but they were publicly aired this month when ITV, a commercial television station, broadcast a documentary in which five women said they had been molested or raped by Mr. Savile when they were teenagers.” It’s online here, and embedded on the next page.

In 2007, I interviewed former BBC journalist Robin Aitken for Tech Central Station, who had recently written a Bernard Goldberg-esque book on the bias that he saw daily while working at the BBC. The piece was titled “A Powerfully Corrosive Internal Culture,” based on one of Aitken’s observations, a phrase which takes on new meaning with this latest scandal.

(Via Kathy Shaidle, who with black humor writes, “If only BBC employees could get married — oh wait.”; originally posted at

Update: ‘BBC Scandal Creates Waves for Incoming New York Times CEO.’



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