Saturday, February 27, 2016

Repercussions: National press rounds on the BBC, calling Savile report a whitewash

Dame Janet Smith’s report on the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall scandals was bound to attract national press criticism.

Newspaper editors, whether favourable or not to the corporation, could hardly react otherwise. The catalogue of predation was all the more shocking for the sober way it was recorded in the judge’s report.

In his statements and interviews on Thursday, the BBC’s current director-general, Lord (Tony) Hall, appeared to accept that the crimes carried out over a 40-year period were impossible to defend, so he did not seek to do so.

His problems in responding to the report were compounded by his decision to fire Tony Blackburn just head of the report’s publication. It opened what amounted to a second front in the general assault on the BBC’s history of failures to confront Savile and Hall over their sexual crimes.

Several papers therefore chose to lead their front pages with the Blackburn sacking, with most concentrating on his claims about being a scapegoat.

The Daily Mail asked whether he had been fired to “deflect attention” from the Smith “whitewash.” The Blackburn effect was also evident on the fronts of the Guardian, Daily Express and the Daily Mirror, with the latter revealing the “secret memos” said to be the reason for his departure.

Much of the newspaper fire was aimed at Smith having produced what Metro’s page 1 headlined called a “£6.5m Savile whitewash”. Several editorials took a similar line.  (more...)

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