After BBC host and publisher of the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine Andrew Neil veered over the Twitter decency line in no style at all in his still fruitless attempts to smear Observer freelance Carole Cadwalladr, the severely adverse comment was not long in arriving. So it might have been thought that someone would say sorry for his characterising Ms Cadwalladr as a “mad cat woman”.
Sadly, that thought was misplaced, as neither Brillo, nor the BBC [my emphasis] have seen fit to apologise. Instead, the best the BBC News Press Team could muster was “There has been some discussion on here regarding a tweet from Andrew Neil about Carole Cadwalladr. He has deleted the tweet and recognises it was inappropriate”. They also personalised it to selected recipients. Really big of them.
So it was that Ms Cadwalladr was told “Hello Carole. Andrew has deleted what he recognises was an inappropriate tweet” to which she quite rightly responded “This is so very inadequate”. When the Beeb tried “Hi Owen. Andrew has deleted what he recognises was an inappropriate tweet” on Owen Jones, he was rather more voluble.
“So what, no apology? If your flagship politics presenter was equally as left-wing as Andrew Neil is right-wing - completely far fetched I accept - would you allow them to behave as he does on Twitter?”. He was not alone in his condemnation.
Steve Peers concluded “It may be that this retweet of a quasi-apology that the BBC made on his behalf is the only apology that @carolecadwalla will get from Mr Neil”, while Ian Dunt told “Usually admire Neil but this is dishonourable. How hard is it to say sorry? If it was inappropriate, it was worth apologising for”. Quite.
Moreover, as Liz Anderson stressed, “Strange that the BBC News Press Team has sort of apologised on Neil’s behalf and he’s RTd this. He’s deleted the original tweet, which is a start, but a delete is not an apology”. Dead right it wasn’t. Fionna O’Leary added her ninepence worth: “Further not even the BBC let alone Neil could actually say ‘sorry’. That would take character”. Why is no-one at the Beeb big enough to say sorry?
Dan Waddell was also unhappy at Dunt’s choice of words. “Why ‘usually admire’? He uses his Twitter account almost exclusively to have a go at and organise pile ons of certain women like CC and Caroline Lucas. And when he’s not doing that he’s promoting Rod Liddle”. Promoting Rod Liddle? Provocative. Worse than saying Hello.
And James O’Brien had a reminder for the Beeb. “A senior BBC politics presenter, who already publishes an aggressively right-wing, pro-Brexit magazine, has completely compromised his ability to fairly report some of the most important stories of our time. He should be fired, but won’t even be sanctioned. It’s where we are now”. He had, after all, withdrawn from the Newsnight rota because of supposed BBC impartiality rules.
Not that those seem to apply to Neil in this case. And former blagger John Ford gave us a preview of what will appear in the next issue of Private Eye magazine: “I know one or two things he's reluctant to declare too - a friend of mine was once a decorator at his Chelsea home and discovered some photographs in a wardrobe (sadly, she's an honest sort and put them back) - but here's one we all love”. The Beeb won’t live this down in a hurry.
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