The thought that our national broadcaster operates a system of flexible principles where some of its presenters are concerned has been reinforced after the FT showed the BBC what real and consistent journalistic principles are about - in the wake of a recent interview featuring the Director General of, er, the BBC.
As Zelo Street regulars will be aware, the FT had run an interview with Lord Hall-Hall earlier this week, in which the good Lord had told that veteran host Andrew Neil had “apologised” to the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr for a Tweet in which he had referred to her as a “mad cat woman”. The problem with this claim is that Brillo most certainly did not apologise. He deleted the Tweet, but did very little more.
True, the Beeb let the world know that The Great Man “recognised that the Tweet was inappropriate”, but that isn’t an apology. Nor is his alleged “regret” at posting it. So Ms Cadwalladr pointed this out to the FT, and the Sporting Pink has, after due consideration, acknowledged reality and issued a correction.
Here’s what the article now tells readers: “‘Andrew apologised for that Tweet,’ said Lord Hall, referring to the removal of the Tweet attacking Ms Cadwalladr. However, the journalist pointed out that a statement released by the television network at the time, which said it was removed because it was ‘inappropriate’, did not amount to an apology”.
And just to underscore that Brillo did not say sorry, readers are now also told “This article has been amended to reflect the fact that television presenter Andrew Neil has not apologised for a Tweet about the journalist Carole Cadwalladr”. So what has the Beeb had to say in response? Has the Corporation decided, at last, to come clean?
Sadly, coming clean is not at the top of the BBC priorities where anything concerning Ms Cadwalladr is concerned. We know this as she has shown the world the contents of the reply she received from them only last Wednesday: “Thanks for your press enquiry which has been forwarded to us. As we said at the time, Andrew recognised his Tweet about you was inappropriate and deleted it. He regrets posting it”.
One more chance for Brillo to say sorry, and one more chance spurned, but worse is that Lord Hall-Hall has been woefully exposed by Neil’s intransigence. The BBC DG has been shown, via the FT’s correction, to have made a claim that was not true, and that, moreover, was known by many at the Corporation not to be true.
So who is going to carry the can for this lapse? The person who briefed Lord Hall-Hall? The DG himself? One hates to suggest that Brillo might do the decent thing, because as sure as night follows day, he won’t. The BBC has dug itself a cavernous hole over the whole Vote Leave referendum fraud business, and seems hell-bent on keeping on digging.
The FT has truly shamed the Corporation. Who’s going to do the right thing and offer their resignation over “L’affair Cadwalladr”? Don’t all shout at once.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at