Remember Sachsgate? The one where Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left a series of less than subtle messages on Andrew Sachs’ voicemail, these being included in a broadcast on 18 October 2008, generating two whole complaints in just over a week? Of course, the splashing of the story by the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre on 26 October 2008 changed that.
And after the Mail On Sunday launched its act of aggression, the number of complaints went into the tens of thousands, with everyone who was anyone queuing up to kick Brand, Ross and of course the BBC. But without the righteous attack from Dacre’s finest, the incident might have remained virtually unknown. That has not been the case with David Starkey.
As an increasing number of folks are now aware, Starkey turned up on Friday’s edition of Newsnight, looking to play his usual edgy and controversial self, but instead accomplished only the simultaneous opening of mouth and insertion of foot, with his comments about “the whites have become black”, together with the observation that if one listened to David Lammy, he “sounded white”.
In less than three days since the broadcast, and with no prompting from the Dacre hackery, the Beeb has received over 700 complaints. So Starkey has generated far more adverse comment from viewers than Brand and Ross did from listeners in a whole week. Where, then, is the attack from the followers of the Vagina Monologue? It’s absent, that’s where it is.
Instead, Mail readers are being instructed not to “howl down” Starkey. The unfortunate nature of his comments is somehow not, in Dacreland, such A Bad Thing. This is, after all, the paper that sent a senior news reporter on a 300 mile journey to cover the murder of a woman and her two children, only to call him en route and order him back because the victims were black.
The same paper that employed a senior news executive who would ask of story subjects “Are they of the dusky hue?” before rejecting the offering [both the latter are recounted by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News]. It’s not a coincidence that the Mail is prepared to launch an act of gratuitous aggression against the BBC on the one hand, yet play down borderline racism on the other.