The Murdoch empire was unhappy at Jeremy Clarkson’s final exit from the BBC, despite his being bang to rights on a case of gross misconduct, having verbally and racially abused a Top Gear producer before physically assaulting him. That same empire is still unhappy, especially as the show is about to relaunch with new front man Chris Evans. The level of unhappiness can be seen in today’s Sun.
an editorial titled “BBC in denial” thunders “IMAGINE the scale of the disaster if the BBC, having booted out Jeremy Clarkson, now had to suspend Chris Evans from Top Gear for allegedly bullying staff … With so much invested in the new show the Beeb cannot bear even to think about it. So it’s stuck its fingers in its ears and insisted he’s innocent”.
There is more: “Are we to believe Evans’ former friends and colleagues are just making it up? The stench of hypocrisy will be rank if bosses so quick to dump Clarkson do not hold his replacement to the same standard, regardless of his worth to them … It will be a gutless betrayal of staff too”. “Allegedly bullying”. “Will be a … betrayal”.
What has Evans actually done? Well, we don’t know, because the main source of accusations against him hasn’t worked with him for fifteen years. Some of those whose opinions - note, just opinions - have been cited haven’t spoken to Evans in 20 years. It’s well known, and freely admitted by the Top Gear host, that back in the day when he fronted BBC Radio 1’s breakfast show he could be a right Royal pain in the neck, capable of appalling behaviour. But that cannot be held against him over Top Gear.
The Murdoch doggies have worked this attack by first outsourcing it to Heat Street, the website headed up by (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch. Then the Sun acts all surprised and quotes from their interview with the bloke who hasn’t seen Evans for a decade and a half. Observers of how Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) passes stories between its news and comment shows will recognise the technique.
After that, the Sun makes its own demands, but still has nothing to back them up. Indeed, the BBC has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement telling “There is nothing to investigate as the accusations that Chris’s behaviour has fallen below the standards required of BBC staff since taking on Top Gear are completely untrue - something we have made clear a number of times”. So what’s it all about?
What this is about is another part of the Murdoch empire’s assault on the BBC, coupled with payback for the Corporation sacking Clarkson, one of their pundits. And what it has told us - quite apart from revealing that Heat Street’s editorial independence is non-existent - is that the Cosa Rupra is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to stop Top Gear returning to the screen. This is desperate. And it is going nowhere.
The BBC is not going to take Jeremy Clarkson back. Top Gear has moved on. And no amount of desperate smearing is going to change that. Get over it, Murdoch poodles.