Bbc Chief Quits After New Scandal Erupts
ritain's venerable BBC is facing arguably the greatest crisis of its existence after George Entwistle, its director general, quit late Saturday following the second scandal involving the public broadcaster's flagship news magazine show to erupt during his 54-day period in office. In the light of the fact that the director-general is also the editor-in-chief and ultimately responsible for all content; and in the light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday November 2, I have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down from the post of director-general, Entwistle said in a statement that he read from the steps of BBC headquarters. The wholly exceptional events of the past few weeks have led me to conclude that the BBC should appoint a new leader. His resignation from his =A3450,000 ($715,000) -a-year job came one day after the BBC's Newsnight program (the equivalent of CBS's 60 Minutes)admitted that it had erred earlier in the month when it accused a prominent British politician -- not named but easily identified as Lord Alistair McAlpine -- of being part of a pedophile ring operating at children's homes in Wales during the 1970s. However, the show's primary source for the accusation said that when he saw a photograph of McAlpine on the Internet on Friday, I got straight on the phone [to the BBC] and told them it wasn't the right man. I'm not having someone prosecuted who does not deserve it. (Apparently he had been the victim of another Alistair McAlpine.) It also turned out that no Newsnight reporter or producer had attempted to contact McAlpine before the program aired. On Friday night's edition, the show displayed a statement saying that it apologized unreservedly for the error. That new apology was issued just weeks after another scandal involving Newsnight came to light, when it emerged that the program had spiked a report by one of its correspondents that the late Jimmy Savile, once one of the BBC's most celebrated hosts, had sexually abused children over a period of decades, often in his BBC dressing room. On Saturday Entwistle was subjected to two embarrassing grillings on its radio and TV news programs but insisted that he would not resign. But pressure on him to do so mounted during the day. Standing next to Entwistle Saturday night, BBC Chairman Chris Patten expressed sadness that the BBC had failed in its role as a trusted global news organization. He said that Entwistle had honorably submitted his resignation because of the unacceptable mistakes and unacceptably shoddy journalism which has caused so much controversy. Entwistle's temporary replacement is Tim Davie, director of BBC Audio and Music who conspicuously lacks any experience in journalism. On Saturday night, veteran Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman blamed budget cuts for the debacle while management has received compensation increases that Paxman called bloating. Entwistle, he said, has been brought low by cowards and incompetents.