February 05, 2004


They’re hanging old Mr. Sexy-Upper out to dry:

Andrew Gilligan's former bosses at the BBC are preparing to blame him for the mistakes in the Iraq dossier story that led to the death of David Kelly.

As usual, BBC staff are revolting:

Today, thousands of BBC journalists, technicians and other members of staff are expected to stage a nationwide, union-organised protest at attacks on the corporation and to reinforce the case for reckless, stupid lying.

Oops; that was meant to read “editorial independence”. Just exercising a little editorial independence of my own there. Attempts to get even with Hutton via the courts seem doomed:

There is much resentment at the BBC of the Hutton report. The Today programme editor, Kevin Marsh, has consulted lawyers about action against Lord Hutton's assertion that his editorial processes were "defective", even though he was not called to give evidence. Sources at Today said the advice was "not promising".

No kidding.

UPDATE. Maaten Schenk has more on the BBC and legal issues.

Posted by Tim Blair at February 5, 2004 04:49 PM

In "Roy Greenslade on Hutton: Chutzpah" we establish that one cannot criticise the people at the BBC because they are orphans.

Roy Greenslade's latest efforts to deal with the Hutton Report in the Irish Times (February 4, 2004), is pure chutzpah.

Chutzpah is that aspect of character which allows a person who has killed both his parents to throw himself on the mercy of the court owing to suddenly finding himself an orphan.

Mr Greenslade pronounces that "Hutton may be regarded as a whitewash".... His argument is based on a hidden premise that reveals one of the roots of "mutant journalism": to be "fair and balanced", journalists must always present "both sides" of a question and give them equal moral value. ... In order for Hutton's report to be "fair", it had to be "balanced": It had to find fault with the Government as well as with BBC.

Greenslade's bill of particulars against the "whitewash" Hutton report consists of one item:

"I accept that once Kelly came forward to identify himself to his MoD bosses as the likely source of Gilligan's story he sacrificed his own chances of remaining anonymous. Sources cannot expect protection if they break cover themselves.

"That said, the MoD still had a duty of care towards him because of his long, hard and skilful work on its behalf: once it decided that his name should emerge, it should, at the very least, have offered him a safe place away from the press along with wise counsel."

.... Greenslade, and a substantial portion of the press, claim that the Government should have foreseen that a braying press pack would camp outside Dr Kelly's home, should have warned him to move to avoid this braying press pack, and should have known that this braying press pack would hound him to take his own life.

This failure to condemn the Government for failing to protect Dr Kelly from the press made Hutton's report unfair and unbalanced.

The media is faulting the court because it has failed to grant its plea for mercy on the ground that it was not prevented from killing its parents and finding itself an orphan.

Greenslade, the BBC and much of the press have now elevated childishness to the sacrocanct victim status of being an orphan.


Read the whole thing at http://www.blog-irish.com/chutzpah.htm

Posted by: Bran at February 5, 2004 at 05:32 PM

I'm surprised the BBC and/or its defenders haven't found a way to blame all their problems on either the: 'Zionist Nazi-like Israelis who persecute the poor, misunderstood, self-defending Palestinians' -or- on 'the Bush/US regime who are also Nazi-like and are out to grab oil and to rule the world'.
Maybe they have and I've missed it?

I think the BBC should interview itself and ask itself what it did to 'deserve what has happened'.
Perhaps they could import some crack NY Times reporters, or columnists, to conduct the interview? (I'd pay to watch that one.)

It's very funny that both the NY Times and the BBC (among others) can print multiple articles that point the finger of blame for 9/11, and Bali, at everyone but the Islamonazis that want to kill us. Yet, when it comes to seeing what is wrong in their own 'houses', they are blind. They see nothing wrong.

They don't see how they may have sacrificed journalistic integrity as they worship at the altar of political ideology. Too bad. Always liked both the BBC and the NY Times. Don't care for either as much as I once did. I detest being preached at by blind ideologues.

I do not believe any government is always right and should *never* be questioned. I expect the press in the US to be a thorn in the side of my government. So, I'm not against the BBC taking on the role of government watchdog. This is a role they should take on.

The BBC, NY Times and others would be serving their publics better if they tried to be more even-handed with the news. They should all have a mix of various political ideologies, and loyalties, among management and staff. Perhaps if they did, we'd see more balanced reporting.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at February 5, 2004 at 06:02 PM

correction to my post (above)

I guess it *does* make sense that groups, who are unable to correctly identify those responsible for 9/11 and Bali, would also be unable to correctly identify problems in their own 'houses'. The blindness that causes them to mis-identify one would also operate in mis-identifying the other.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at February 5, 2004 at 06:21 PM

The obvious solution is for the thousands of demonstrating BBC employees to demand a substantial increase in the compulsory TV fee (tax). Jumping from the current $220 (US$) per year to $2,000 per year should teach the unwashed masses to question the integrity of a BBC journalist.

The extra money would help sooth their greatly offended egos.

Posted by: perfectsense at February 5, 2004 at 06:50 PM

perfectsense don't give the bastards ideas.

Posted by: Rob Read at February 5, 2004 at 08:37 PM

So Britain is no longer "Gilligan's Island," eh?

Posted by: Lewis at February 5, 2004 at 09:59 PM

I would be ashamed to be a Brit. This anti-Bush, anti-America,anti-Blair mainia has really outed the dementia of the UK left.

Imagine if staffers at the NY Times had the same reaction to their scandle. At is root its the same thing - exposing untrue reporting and management taking repsonsiblity/the fall for creating the conditions in which it could happen.

Even worse in the BBC case though, because after it was exposed, they refused to do anything it and in fact defended it. Most still are.

Posted by: peter at February 6, 2004 at 12:12 AM

What's all this about Gilligan? I don't blame him a bit for sexing things up. I would too if I were trapped on an island with Ginger and Mary Ann.

I'll give the New York Times credit in that they realized they had a problem in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal and dealt with it openly. The BBC still seems to be in a state of denial.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at February 6, 2004 at 12:20 AM


Egypt is the State of Denial. I think the BBC still has correspondents there (dodging jihadi lynch gangs by dodging the truth).

Posted by: Papertiger at February 6, 2004 at 01:41 AM
Attempts to get even with Hutton via the courts seem doomed

In the interests of completeness, here are some reports that perhaps suggest otherwise:

"Hutton Report Flawed: BBC lawyers"

"BBC ignored legal advice on Hutton report"

(Reported in Fairfax press, so adjust your bias-meters accordingly)

Posted by: Jethro at February 6, 2004 at 08:19 AM

Egypt be de state ON de nile, not the state OF denial.

Posted by: Arik at February 6, 2004 at 04:39 PM

The shallow kinds of glamour & guruhood felt by BBC news staff combine nonetheless into a heady cocktail sexed up with influence, access, & a mass audience.

Mana _________________________________________ Merit
Power & influence ____________ Shouldn’t ______ Character
Wealth & resources _____________ Be _______ Competence
Glory & glamour ______________ Confused ______ Sensibility
Guruhood & authoritativeness ____ With _______ Intelligence

Mana’s prizing is a pressure for merit’s corruption. Not even the BBC is exempt from that.

Posted by: ForNow at February 6, 2004 at 06:09 PM