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.