Mark Thompson, the New York Times Co. chief executive, was director-general of the British Broadcasting Corporation when a BBC news program into a massive child-sex abuse scandal involving veteran network entertainer Jimmy Savile was abruptly squashed. Uncertainty lingers as to just what (and when) Thompson knew about accusations against Savile and the cancellation of the program, questions that occasionally made it into the paper, until a report commissioned by the BBC gave Thompson a pass.
Journalist Maureen Orth has a useful new summary of what we know (and what we still don't know) on the web site of Vanity Fair.
A report into the British Broadcasting Corporation handling of the Jimmy Savile child-sex abuse scandal was released Wednesday, and the upper management of the BBC got off lightly, though the management culture of the BBC came in for criticism. One prominent member of that management: Mark Thompson, who served as director-general of the BBC for eight years until earlier this year, when he became chief executive of the New York Times Co.
Interestingly, Thursday's front-page Times story from London by John Burns and Stephen Castle, "Report Faults Lax Leadership At BBC in Sex Abuse Scandal," featured Thompson more prominently than the report itself did. A text box on the Times's inside page reads, "An inquiry that some say went too easy on top management." From the Times:
The shocking developments in the Jimmy Savile child sex abuse scandal at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) raise disturbing questions about Mark Thompson, the former BBC director general who was named the new president and CEO of The New York Times Company in August. Given what has come to light thus far, Thompson is at the very least "guilty of gross professional incompetence" and at worst involved in "an indefensible cover-up," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell charged in letters sent yesterday to New York Times publisher Jill Abramson executive editor Jill Abramson and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
"If you did conduct a background investigation during the hiring process, what were your findings? If you knew about Mr. Savile’s alleged crimes while Mr. Thompson was director general, why did you decide to go ahead and hire him anyway?" Bozell inquired in the letters, which he is making public today, "because the public deserves to know the truth." "I want to give you the benefit of the doubt in this matter, and therefore the opportunity to respond," the Media Research Center founder added, concluding, "Your response will be reproduced in full." [You can find the Sulzberger letter pasted below and the nearly-identical Abramson letter is linked here ]
When he was director general of the BBC, controversial new New York Times Co. chief executive Mark Thompson "launched a scathing attack on Rupert Murdoch's media empire, warning that BSkyB [Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting Group]" was too powerful and threatened to "dwarf" the BBC. He also accused Sarah Palin of misleading the American public by using the phrase "death panel" when discussing Obama-care.
(Thompson is facing questions concerning what he knew about the Jimmy Savile sex-abuse coverup at the BBC that occurred under his watch. A BBC report, including questioning of Thompson, is expected in mid-December. Times Watch is keeping watch on the ongoing controversy over what Thompson knew about the cancellation of a BBC investigative program into the multiple allegations against Savile, eccentric icon of the BBC.)
The New York Times has aggressively covered lurid scandals involving its perceived ideological opponents, from questioning what Pope Benedict XVI knew about the sex abuse and coverup in the Catholic Church, to the phone-hacking committed in Rupert Murdoch's tabloid empire. But when it comes to a pedophilia scandal and coverup that has been brought into the New York Times Co.'s own backyard, the coverage is muted and tamed.
Mark Thompson, new chief executive for the NYT Co., was director general of the BBC from 2004 until 2011, and was in charge when the decision was made by higherups in 2011 to abandon a 'Newsnight' story investigating accusations of pedophilia against long-time BBC star Jimmy Savile.
Mark Thompson, a former director-general of the British Broadcasting Corporation, began his new job Monday as president and CEO of The New York Times. The lack of embarrassment was remarkable. Thompson claimed he was the worst kind of ignorant buffoon, knowing nothing about the massive sex-abuse scandal – and then its censorship – that’s rocking the BBC.
Scotland Yard has been conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by the late disc jockey and TV personality Jimmy Savile over six decades, describing him as a "predatory sex offender.” In mid-October, the metropolitian police stated they were pursuing over 400 lines of inquiry based on the testimony of 300 potential victims. Chris Patten, the head of the BBC’s government body called it “this great tsunami of filth.” BBC’s “Newsnight” was about to broadcast an expose last December – but BBC bosses spiked it, and incredibly, aired Christmas tributes to Savile instead.
Thirteen Catholic church abuse articles made the front page; just one BBC piece did
Lead sentence linked Pope to scandals 20 times; linked new Times boss to BBC scandals just once.
It’s a horrifying and tragically familiar story: A beloved and trusted institution is rocked by allegations of sexual abuse of minors over many years. Intrepid reporters dig to learn how the crimes could have gone on so for so long, who knew about them, and if officials kept it quiet. Story after newspaper story leads with speculation that corruption may be systemic and the cover-up may go all the way to the man at the top.
New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan challenged her paper on its incoming chief executive Mark Thompson, who was director general of the BBC when it "killed an investigative segment on its Newsnight program about a celebrity TV personality, Jimmy Savile, accused of sexually abusing hundreds of young girls."
On Tuesday's The Last Word on MSNBC, liberals were once again hearing allegedly "coded" messages. During a discussion of Rick Santorum's GOP primary victories in Alabama and Mississippi, guest and talk radio host Mark Thompson absurdly seemed to suggest that Santorum's announcement speech that he gave in Pennsylvania back in June 2011 contained a "coded message" aimed at winning Alabama nine months later by appealing to racist sentiments.
After host Lawrence O'Donnell asked if he had seen "anything surprising" in Tuesday's election results, Thompson began his ridiculous analysis:
In a 10-paragraph January 11 Battleland blog post marking the 10th anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Time magazine's Mark Thompson called the prison "the persistent headache that pretty much all Americans would like to go away."
Thompson failed to back up the claim with polling data, however, which actually runs squarely against his claim.
Given the sacrifices that U.S. sailors and Marines make to serve our country, it hardly seems right to me to force them to go for months on end aboard surface ships without the right to light up a smoke.
But I'm not Mark Thompson.
Today the Time magazine staffer dusted off a convenient but recently-ignored liberal media bogeyman, Big Tobacco:
BBC Director General Mark Thompson admitted to the UK Daily Mail in an article today that Britain's state-run news outlet has had a "massive" left-wing bias. He insisted, though, that the network is taking steps to remedy the ideological slant.
BBC has a history of promoting the ultra-leftist agenda on most issues. But to see the channel's top dog admit it in an interview with the Daily Mail was quite a sight.
Now if only some television outlets on this side of the pond would do the same.
While Thompson pleaded guilty to a liberal slant, he insisted that a new crop of journalists is changing the political face of the BBC.