[Updates, two so far, at end of post]
The desperate attempts of the Dacre empire to kick the BBC for having the temerity to look for long term savings for the licence payer by moving some of its operations out of London continue today, with yet more knocking copy aimed at the Media City complex on Salford Quays. Yesterday it was the studio, and today, hack Liz Thomas is worried about security.
BBC Broadcasting House: once again, still in London
“Frightened BBC staff offered personal security guards after boss tells them Salford is a ‘different kettle of fish’ to London” screams the headline, before identifying a total of, er, zero frightened staff. But there’s more: “Guards to escort staff to their cars and tram stops after host of attacks”. And how big is this “host”? Well, that number could be two, but most likely is just one.
And that’s it, then? You jest. Not when the Vagina Monologue and his obedient hackery have an agenda to pursue. Readers then get told of graffiti and theft, because as any Daily Mail reader is required to know, neither of these can be found in W12. Really? Well, it is admitted at the very end of the article that the crime rate in Shepherd’s Bush is higher than in Salford.
Yes, the crime rate in the part of London where BBC Television Centre is located is higher than that for Media City. And the idea that security is being stepped up for “frightened staff” also appears to have been invented by the Mail, as the spokesman for Peel Media, who own the site, has confirmed that escorts have been offered to those requiring them “from day one”.
But someone was shot dead last year, tells the Mail, and they were staying at a hotel on Salford Quays. Good try, but the incident didn’t happen on the Quays, and certainly not at Media City. And let’s not have the “Tube station only yards away” in London – anyone going to White City or Shepherd’s Bush stations still has to cross Wood Lane, a busy thoroughfare. And the stations don’t have platform staff.
All that remains for Ms Thomas to do is recycle another photo of Susanna Reid (because the readers like her, even though, as I pointed out yesterday, she is not the Daily Mail’s kind of person), and scream “£1.5 billion” at its readers, this being the cost of staff relocation, and a Very Big And Scary Number. No mention of the BBC’s longer term strategy, or its savings, can be allowed to enter.
Given that the Mail is a national newspaper, and that it sells in non-trivial quantities across the North West, this irrational demonising of the region is bizarre. We know that Dacre hates the Beeb. But this barrage of petulant knocking copy is getting him and his paper nowhere. And it won’t stop the Corporation moving staff out of London and ultimately selling off Television Centre.
But it gives one editor a nice warm feeling, so that’s all right, then.
[UPDATE1 1225 hours: the Super Soaraway Currant Bun has outdone the Mail on this story, with a sprinkling of blatant whoppers added for good effect. "The Beeb is providing MINDERS for terrified stars" howls the piece, but the Beeb is providing no minders. Escorts are provided by Peel Media.
The same mistake is made when Rupe's downmarket troops infer that Tony Chebrika of Peel Media is the BBC's head of security. And for good measure, a supposed "BBC source" warns "What did they expect? It's pretty rough here. Hardly any of the big names live in the area. They swan in and out as fast as they can".
Leaving aside the minor detail that this has been invented, most likely by a Sun hack who once got through the door at Television Centre, probably as part of a studio audience (this qualifies them as a "BBC source"), the thought enters that it would be difficult to find any of the Beeb's "names" who live in Shepherd's Bush.
And the trashy Murdoch rag hasn't even had the grace to credit the Mail. But the piece does have a Susanna Reid photo with more cleavage than the one in the original article, so that's all right, then]
[UPDATE2 13 April 1330 hours: the Mail has now sent its pundits over the top in support of Liz Thomas. The unfunny and tedious Richard Littlejohn has discovered that long running ITV soap Coronation Street is set in Salford - nothing gets past Dick - and so has come up with the spoof show "Corporation Street".
Laugh? I thought I'd never start. A cartoon strip about the BBC, with that title and drawn by Ken Pyne, ran for several years in Private Eye. Dick, you're a dick, and your originality is as lacking as ever.
In support of Dick is a wandering buffoon by the name of Andrew Pierce, whose bio reads "[his] perceptive right of centre political journalism is required reading for its insiders view of Parliament". Sadly, this is not Parliament, and Pierce is not at all perceptive.
"... [the BBC] need to hire escorts to frog march guests on the long and expensive trip from London and the South East" he whines. To follow this not even amusing whopper comes the usual grumble about guests being from the North of England (how utterly ghastly that must feel to the pampered hacks in upmarket Kensington).
Then, having pulled one fib, he's off: "Almost as soon as the last Labour Government insisted on the move, in yet another blatant act of social engineering". Very good, Andrew. Now go and have a nice lie down in that darkened room they keep for over-angry hacks at Dacre Towers]