The problem with the latest corrosive scandal to engulf yet another UK institution is that... well it's all so predictable. People, or organisations for that matter, that believe themselves untouchable quite often end up doing fairly unspeakable things. Although I didn't know Jimmy Savile from a hole in the ground, it does rather seem as though he believed he was untouchable, and lets face it he is dead and was given something of a hero's send-off- so in life he surely was untouchable. Those who have come out to complain about his behaviour since he died do seem to have the smack of truth about them and of course those "in the know" now say that they knew all along that there was something untoward about him.
So far so tragically sordid.
What the BBC has done about "Savile" as we must now call him (certainly not "Sir Jimmy", although that is the style he knew until the day he died) has revealed the very culture that allowed this seemingly rather creepy man to commit some rather nasty crimes. The fact is that the BBC long ago lost a sense of humility. The very fact that the -now outgoing- Director General had such and absurd title as "Head of Vision" speaks libraries rather than volumes about the isolated culture that this vast and generally unaccountable bureaucracy has created. The fact is that the BBC relied on a false image of itself. It believed that it had a higher calling than those that it was supposed to report on and report to. Huge amounts of money are being spent recruiting "talent", yet this "talent" produces formulaic and pretty trashy television. Only on Radio can some glimpse of Reithian grandeur still be found- and even here, the arrogance with which the Today Programme devours the news agenda- rendering the remainder of the day's news output a mere shadow of its former self- suggests that another "sexing-up" scandal can not be far away.
So as the BBC tries to pick up the pieces and as the temporary leader tries to convince the poorly named BBC Trust that he should be given the sceptre, the reality grows ever clearer: the BBC has not merely made mistakes, it has become a mistake. It has allowed a bloated culture of excess to drown out the mandate that public service broadcasting was supposed to sustain. The culture that permits gratuitous errors of fact. The culture that breaks the first rules of journalism- that the facts must be checked and corroborated. The reality is that the BBC has bullied and bludgeoned its way through its recent reportage- it was, in truth, an accident waiting to happen.
Without a wholesale change in the way the BBC does things, it -and its evil twin, the Murdoch Empire- serve no purpose save a negative one. The creeps and charlatans that have hidden under Aunty's skirts are now too numerous to be ignored and the cravenly political- mostly Guardian reading- agenda to which the organisation has subscribed must now be dealt with. The spectacle of the BBC disappearing up its own fundament has been ludicrous in the extreme, and yet, as I say, it all seems so predictable. After all Private Eye was there years ago.
Now Private Eye reminds us that they suggest some time ago that another knight- Sir Cyril Smith- was involved in some dubious activity, although here the evidence seems a bit more controversial, though as we have learned recently, the benefit of the doubt seems to be in short supply, and rightly so.