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BBC Scandal Exposes Cover-Up of Host Jimmy Savile’s Pedophilia, Fueling Public Broadcaster’s Foes

The latest on the media scandal engulfing the British Broadcasting Corporation.


The following is a transcript of a Democracy Now! segment on the BBC scandal.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today with a media scandal engulfing the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC. The director general has resigned amidst mounting questions over the BBC’s handling of two child sex-abuse reports. Earlier this month, one of the BBC’s flagship programs, Newsnight, broadcast a report that wrongly implicated a politician in child sex-abuse scandals. After the report aired, the victim saw a photograph of the politician and said he was not the man who abused him. In his resignation speech on Saturday, former BBC director general George Entwistle admitted the report reflected poor journalistic standards.

GEORGE ENTWISTLE: In the light of the fact that the director general is also the editor-in-chief and ultimately responsible for all content, and in light of the unacceptable journalistic standards of the Newsnight film broadcast on Friday, 2nd November, I have decided that the honorable thing to do is to step down from the post of director general.

AMY GOODMAN: Newsnight is also under scrutiny for failing to broadcast a report on child sex-abuse allegations against the popular BBC personality Jimmy Savile, who is accused of abusing potentially hundreds of victims. On Monday, head of news Helen Boaden and her deputy Stephen Mitchell also "stepped aside" in wake of the scandal. The editor of the segment, Peter Rippon, said he axed the investigation because of lack of evidence. Instead, a series of tributes to Jimmy Saville were aired across the BBC’s radio and TV network last year after his death.

JIMMY SAVILE: Here we go for a warm-up right now then. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Top of the Pops.

BBC NARRATOR: He was a pop pioneer.

JIMMY SAVILE: And how about that then?

BBC NARRATOR: And a multimillion-pound charity fundraiser. He made us belt up in the ’70s.

JIMMY SAVILE: Clunk click, every trip. Now then.

BBC NARRATOR: And fixed it for thousands of kids’ dreams to come true. For 60 years, Jimmy Savile has been part of our lives, a great British eccentric.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, last month, nearly a year after Jimmy Savile’s death, ITVreleased a documentary called Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile. This is Sue Thompson, a former BBC employee.

SUE THOMPSON: And I opened the door and I walked in, and Savile was sat in the chair with the right side of his body facing me. And there was a girl of about 14 with long brown hair, sat on his knee. He had his left arm up her skirt, and he had—he was kissing her. But what I distinctly remember, and that’s the image that sticks in my mind, was the fact, as I opened the door, he turned his head, and it was just his tongue that was just sort of coming out of her mouth that stuck in my mind. It was that image. So it wasn’t as a—it wasn’t just like a peck on the cheek, like she’d jumped on his knee and sort of done it spontaneously. It was a definite sexual advance to this girl.

AMY GOODMAN: The widening BBC scandal also has implications on the other side of the Atlantic here in the United States. Former BBC director general, Mark Thompson, is the incoming New York Times Company chief executive. He was at the helm of the BBC last year, when the investigation into Jimmy Savile’s alleged child sex abuse was dropped. Thompson claims he was unaware of the program’s investigation and had no involvement in the decision to cancel the report.

Well, for more, we go to London, where we’re joined via Democracy Now! video stream by Lark Turner. She’s been researching and writing about the BBCscandal involving Jimmy Savile for the New York Times, where she recently worked on the  piece, "Complaint Ignored for Decades Is Heard at Last in BBCAbuse Case." The article profiles Deborah Cogger, who was a teenager in reform school where she says Jimmy Savile molested her and others. I should note we contacted the BBC for comment, but they did not respond by airtime.

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