In another case of apparent media malpractice, the New York Times recently hired the former Director of the BBC, Mark Thompson, to take over as CEO starting next month. Shortly after the announcement of his hire, a story broke in the UK concerning Mr. Thompson’s long-time BBC colleague, Sir Jimmy Savile, alleging that he had been suspected of the sexual abuse of children for decades, including the 15 years that he worked at the BBC with Mr. Thompson.
For thirty years, ending in the mid-90’s, Savile was a wildly popular host of a number of children’s and teen shows in Britain. He had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
The current controversy erupted just a little over two weeks ago when BBC’s competitor, Britain’s commercial broadcast channel ITV, aired a documentary on numerous allegations against of sexual molestation of minors by Savile. Some of the horrendous sexual assaults allegedly occurred while Savile was employed by BBC, on BBC property.
The problem with Thompson is that, while Thompson was in charge of BBC, BBC’s program Newsnight conducted its own investigation into Savile’s sexual abuse of children, but never broadcast the report. Thompson claims that he never directed that the investigative report not be broadcast and, in fact, asserts that he didn’t even know that the sordid allegations against Savile had been made.
A major BBC actor said two days ago that Thompson’s denials that he didn’t know about the sex abuse allegations against Savile are false: ‘You worked at the BBC and you don’t know anything about it? Don’t be ridiculous. That is absolute nonsense.”
Creating more pressure on Thompson, the UK Daily Mail reported yesterday that on a Sunday program, “the BBC ‘censored’ a series of emails that indicated senior executives were involved in the decision to axe a Newsnight investigation into Savile.”
The director of BBC’s Newsnight asserts that Thompson had nothing to do with the decision not to air the investigative report but that, instead, Savile’s death in December 2011 convinced the BBC not to air anything as Savile was no longer alive to defend himself.
The Sydney Morning Herald Reported that there are now a “staggering number of victims in Savile inquiry.” The alleged victims were not only involved with the BBC but also came from children’s homes and hospitals. The fact that institutions were allegedly involved in Savile’s child rapes lead some to believe that his actions could not have possibly occurred without the knowledge and/or cooperation of various British authorities.
Here’s the ITV documentary on the alleged abuse by Savile: