There's a very strong attack on the BBC from Nick Cohen on the Guardian website headlined The sinister treatment of dissent at the BBC (h/t Guest Who at Biased BBC):
Nobody from John Humphrys in the morning to Evan Davis at night dares mention a scandal at the BBC. It undermines their reporting of every abuse whistleblowers reveal. It reinforces the dirty common sense of British life that you must keep your head down if you want to keep your job.
The scandal is simply this: the BBC is forcing out or demoting the journalists who exposed Jimmy Savile as a voracious abuser of girls. As Meirion Jones put it to me: “There is a small group of powerful people at the BBC who think it would have been better if the truth about Savile had never come out. And they aim to punish the reporters who revealed it.”
Meirion Jones was an investigative producer for the BBC. He broke the Savile story, but the editor of 'Newsnight' banned his report. The BBC then attempted a cover-up.
A week ago, Jones’s managers told him that a temporary assignment on Panorama was over. He should have been able to go back to his old job. But there was no old job to go back to. He had been fired.
His reporter on the Savile film, Liz MacKean, also spoke out, "so the BBC forced her out too":
“When the Savile scandal broke,” she told me, “the BBC tried to smear my reputation. They said they had banned the film because Meirion and I had produced shoddy journalism. I stayed to fight them, but I knew they would make me leave in the end. Managers would look through me as if I wasn’t there. I went because I knew I was never going to appear on screen again.”
The BBC refuses to call them “whistleblowers”. Its official review into the Savile scandal found that BBC management had acted in “good faith”.
If you are tempted to agree, consider the sequel. Panorama responded magnificently to the news that the BBC had killed the Savile scoop. It broadcast a special documentary, which earned the highest audience in the programme’s history. Jones and MacKean described how their journalism had been suppressed, and Panorama went on to document Savile’s crimes. How open the BBC is, I thought. What other institution would subject itself to the same level of self-criticism?
What a fool I was. Since then, BBC managers have shifted Tom Giles, the editor of Panorama, out of news. Peter Horrocks, an executive who insisted throughout the scandal that the BBC must behave ethically, announced last September that he was resigning to “find new challenges”. Clive Edwards, who as commissioning editor for current affairs oversaw the Panorama documentary, was demoted. The television trade press reported recently that his future is “not yet clear” (which doesn’t sound as if he has much of a future at all).
Nick Cohen contrasts their treatment with "those who did nothing to advance the public interest": Adrian Van Klaveren, who "allowed Newsnight to falsely imply that Lord McAlpine was a child abuser", and has now been promoted to "head of strategic change"; Helen Boaden, then BBC head of news at the time of the "censorship", who now sits on the BBC’s executive board; Peter Rippon, the 'Newsnight editor' who blocked Jones and MacKean, who "now has a comfortable job managing the BBC’s archive."
A senior BBC press officer vowed to “drip poison about Meirion’s suspected role”. He was later promoted. Peter Rippon said that if Jones spoke freely: “I will throw shit at him”.
Nick Cohen concludes with a more general point and a call to arms:
The best aspect of modern culture is that it revolts against such hierarchical control. The computer revolution makes information sharing and cooperative ways of working easy to achieve. But hierarchies have men and women at their summits who will fight as ferociously as BBC executives to protect their position, and prevent democratic change.
The case of Jones and MacKean makes my point. I have reported on it in the Observer and Private Eye has covered it too. But the Tory press, which daily bashes the BBC, has avoided the story. You only have to look at the Telegraph to understand why it does not want to encourage insubordination. Its journalists must resign before they can protest against HSBC’s control of its news pages.
The power of hierarchies is hard to break. But if you want to fight fraud in the City or the rape of children, it has to be broken. A start can be made by insisting that everyone from John Humphrys in the morning to Evan Davis at night tells the truth about the purge of the BBC’s truth tellers.
Maybe the BBC could prove him wrong by allowing him to make a documentary for them investigating this story further, and then broadcasting it in, say, Radio 4's 'The Report' spot or in BBC One's 'Panorama' spot?