Whilst I smelled a rat in the Steve Missham affair and subsequent events have proved me justified, I’m not feeling that smug because I can’t actually claim I saw the latest developments coming. They’re just too incredible.
What Missham has done is announce to the world that his alleged abuser didn’t look like, and therefore wasn’t, the politician he’s been accusing to all and sundry for days. The news media appears to accept this, and has gone on a frenzy of blame culminating in the “resignation” of George Entwistle this evening. The one person not apparently in the firing line is Missham, who’s fantastic story is the cause of it. The idea that he didn’t know what the person he was accusing looked like before his recent publicity spree stretches credibility beyond my limit.
Okay, the BBC clearly didn’t check its facts either but then again this is hardly uncommon. As I said last week, they’re always on the lookout for anything negative they an say about the Conservative Party, and I’d assume they’re even less likely to check facts in such a case.
This morning I heard George Entwistle being savaged by John Humpharies on Today. After several minutes I couldn’t take it, but they were still on when the snooze button had timed out. Entwistle was protesting that no one had told him anything. Sadly, I have to say I believe him. This evening he “resigned”, but received a year’s inflated salary as a pay-off. That’s a neat trick. Who else can choose to resign and have their employer’s pay him a year’s salary? Some mistake, surely.
Apart from the peer who’s been accused of the most horrendous crimes for no reason whatsoever, the other victims in this affair are children who have been abused, and those who will be in the future. We’re always hearing the mantra that children don’t lie about such things and should always believed. This was Missham’s main theme too. It goes along with the notion that no women would falsely claim to be raped. Privately, people who work with children and alleged rape victims will contradict this – some people will claim all sorts of things if they think it will get them what they want. Having such a high-profile abuse victim who was clearly not telling the truth is not going to encourage genuine victims of such crimes to come forward.
As to the crisis at the BBC, it’s long been the case that some of their journalists have exhibited bias and inaccuracy in reporting, especially at the local and national level. They’re now engaged in reporting, 24/7 on their favourite subject (themselves). When Entwistle resigned it was blamed on “shoddy journalism”, but what of the shoddy journalists? They’re still there.
I’ve just been watching speculation as to who’s going to take over as Director General of the BBC. The journalists are complaining that Tim Davie, the caretaker DG, has no editorial experience, and is also an outsider. Other candidates have been criticised for being non-editorial and non-BBC types. Entwistle was from a 23-year BBC Editorial background (as previous DGs) but has failed spectacularly, cut and run (or was he really pushed?)
Of course the BBC hacks want one of their own, but that’s the last thing the BBC needs.