Sunday, 6 February 2011
...and populist shall speak peace unto lobby group?
Good to see a incisive article by Ian Bell in Saturday’s Herald on Dave Cameron’s pal, Jeremy Clarkson and his colleagues, and in particular the spat over insults to Mexicans and Mexico that provoked a particularly half-hearted apology from the BBC - not one from Top Gear, you'll notice.
As Ian says, the dinosaurs from Top Gear ain’t clever and they ain’t funny, but they are popular, and therein lies one of the main reason for the appallingly hypocritical and/or racist statement from the BBC that national stereotypes are legitimate targets for humour. This is one of the most worrying developments in the saga, and shows exactly what many have suspected - that the current BBC management are quite prepared to abandon the corporation’s long-held reputation for fairness and impartiality when the subjects of the accusation are powerful, or popular enough.
Leaving aside the debate about how ‘national stereotypes’ become stereotypes, the BBC’s mealy-mouthed reaction on behalf of Hammond, Clarkson et al is another nail in the coffin of Auntie’s reputation.
Following on the rejection of the Palestine Emergency Appeal broadcast by the Disasters Emergency Committee - at the behest, or in fear of, the powerful Zionist lobby; the craven sneak into 10 Downing Street by Mark Thompson to debate/agree/warn Dave of the way the BBC will report the ConDem cuts agenda, and the poorly judged and appallingly handled Question Time publicity stunt for the BNP (incidentally why is the shift to Glasgow the issue concerning the QT team? Given recent poor panels and inability to read the local issues, I would have thought that cancellation would be far more of a fear) it is now a matter of real concern that Thompson’s weak-kneed bending to every powerful lobby is compromising fair and proportionate decision-taking in one of the major news and information providers of the West.
In case you might think this is over-egging this particular pudding, consider this. Given the above history, do you think similar ‘national stereotyping’ of Israelis and of Israel would have been a similar ‘legitimate target for humour’? Would anything like that even have got into the broadcast programme? Whatever the outcome of a confrontation between the populist (Top Gear) and the political (Israel) lobbies over such an event, the suspicion will always now be of a broadcaster who takes decisions on the basis of such pressures, not one with the aim of impartiality, accuracy and responsibility.
The BBC does have a responsibility for its decisions, and no-one is suggesting that it is in the same category as Fox News and their exhortations to violent attacks on people Rupert doesn’t like, but at least Sky acted decisively when a programme presenter suggested that women linespeople didn’t know the rules!
Mark Thompson has presided over this denigration of the BBC, and should go now, while there is still a (slim) opportunity to rescue our public service broadcaster.