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Knives are out at BBC as D-G is thrown overboard

George Entwistle resigned tonight after a second mishandled editorial crisis left his position untenable. The BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten did not try to change his mind. Entwistle quit, he said, to ‘restore trust’ in the BBC. That won’t be easy, either inside or out.

Entwistle was a casualty more of bad luck than ban judgement. He turned a blind eye to the Newsnight investigation of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal when he should have got involved.

He was instrumental in the suspension of the Newsnight editor, Peter Rippon, which left a vacuum. In that vacuum, Newsnight broadcast allegations about a paedophile scandal allegedly involving a senior Tory. Those allegations proved to be without foundation. Entwistle could not withstand the backlash. He quit after 54 days in the job.

Tonight, Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman attacked BBC’s ‘bloated’ management in a series of tweets via his agent. Outside, the Murdoch press is sharpening its knives and calls for a public inquiry into BBC journalism will resound around the land. Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour culture minister and an ex-BBC presenter, said that Entwistle had been unjustly forced out.

The acting D-G, from tonight is Tim Davie, head of radio and music. He has a background in marketing and no track record in news and current affairs, the heart of the crisis.

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Comments

  1. It’s a mark of the BBCs contrition that the excellent Panorama programme about the Savile scandal is available on BBC i-player for the much extended period of 12 months-normally, only 7 days.

  2. The BBC won’t be right until the Licence Fee is ditched, the BBC Trust is disbanded and the whole organization is changed. I don’t think it’s good to have ex politicians involved at any top level of any organization.

    The people, the general public who are paying this fee don’t have ANY say in what goes on is ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING!!!!

  3. Kenneth Griffin says:

    George Entwistle as D-G was himself a vacuum. I imagine that Jeremy Paxman is planning to present a series of tribute programmes to him on BBC tv over Xmas. Happy 90th!

  4. Paul Kelly says:

    What did for George Entwistle was not so much timing, bad though that was, as much as a complete absence of control and leadership. Listening to him on the Today programme was akin to hearing a lamb being slaughtered. That he was being slaughtered by one of his leading journalists gives some comfort that at least some in the BBC have an understanding of process and priorities. Yet this daft episode has some positives. To find the BBC exposing its own sins rather than covering them up is a refreshingly quaint and honourable trait in this day and age, one that goes some way to justifying the licence fee we all pay. The Thom(p)son twins (Mark (ex) and Caroline (hopeful)) must be counting their blessings that they missed the BBC’s equivalent of Hurricane Sandy. Entwistle will be an excellent no 2 in some media organisation or other – and will probably end up earning more for less public scrutiny and pressure. What the BBC now needs is a big beast who will protect its global reputation and put a few sensible controls in place to ensure it reports the news rather than makes it.

  5. Murdoch attacking the BBC on morality issues really is the pot calling the kettle black. Journalism ought to be a sub-discipline of history. Instead it’s a sub-profession within pornography

  6. During his lifetime, the most accurate summary of Savile OBE was broadcast by Radio 1 in the form of a spoof report (in 1994) of his passing away:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcRFlcXCkoc&feature=related

    it’s a reminder that the focus should sway from these attacks on the BBC, and re-focus on the victims of the abuse.

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