Tuesday, February 23, 2010

For flip's sake

Sigh... the BBC really does like to beat itself up about trivialities, doesn't it? In last night's entertaining Newsnight debate on Gordon Brown's bullying, Jeremy Paxman read a quote from Andrew Rawnsley's book which included a naughty word, specifically the F word in its present participle.

Not really the worst thing that could have been said. It was almost 11pm, two hours after the watershed, and you could hear far worse if you switched channels and watched any of the comedy shows or films that were on.

This being the Beeb, though, not only was Paxman instructed to apologise for what he said, but a news story was then written on the BBC website about it.

I did admire the mealy-mouthed way in which Paxo apologised, though:
"Apparently I'm told by our editor I have to apologise for quoting what you said the Prime Minister said, so honour satisfied now."
I also found it amusing that the Government had wheeled out John Prescott, a talented bully himself, to defend the Prime Minister. Still, it could have been Alastair Campbell...

Prescott seemed to find it hard to understand why Andrew Rawnsley didn't name his sources, even though it was explained that they were serving civil servants who could find themselves in difficulty if identified. It does not follow, as Prescott alleged, that if you can't name a source then it must not be true. Rawnsley is too professional a journalist for that.

Then again, what would you expect from a Government that is more than happy to name confidential sources and hang them out to dry if it helps them. The name David Kelly springs to mind...

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