The end of the road for Newsnight?

10 November 2012

11:56 AM

10 November 2012

11:56 AM

Oddly enough, re the latest Newsnight/BBC debacle, Esther Rantzen got it right. She was talking on Newsnight. She made the point that her old programme That’s Life regularly did investigative stuff, but that there was always a lawyer involved, all the way along, right from the off. Absolutely. I did the same thing at the Today programme – when both Andrew Gilligan and Angus Stickler were on my books and we did an investigative piece at least once a week. No question: the reporter would be told what he needed to get to stand the story up at the commissioning point. There would usually be a lawyer in then. Then we’d regroup half way through the piece and review what else was needed for the piece to stand up to scrutiny. And then, at the end, we’d pick apart every line of script and again run it by a lawyer. If there was the slightest problem, it wouldn’t run. Never had a single problem, doing it that way.

But it seems the BBC doesn’t do this stuff anymore – partly, I think, because it doesn’t really ‘get’ investigative journalism. Newsnight is now in the most appalling trouble. It is hard to see the programme continuing to exist in its present form.

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Show comments
  • Judith

    First Paxman needs to go.

  • John Steadman

    toWell, Rod, I suppose that given your background, especially as a BBC man, you are bound to see things about journalism and the Beeb that I would never notice; but speaking as a simple consumer, it seems to me that so far as competence is concerned (as opposed to political bias – a very different matter, certainly) the BBC has always been pretty well outstanding in the field – and few of us can have observed any other than endless wholesome praise both internally and at international level.

    Where were the voices criticising the competence of BBC journalism a couple of months ago, before the present Savile-inspired mass hysteria (on all fronts – policing, child-protection, the BBC)?

    No one can deny that editorial errors have been made at the organisation, and Newsnight in particular (I compare Newsnight to the life-long safe driver who, in a rare moment of inattention, clips the back-wheel of a cyclist, and, in panic, speeds off through the lights to mow down an old lady crossing the road); but is the place really the citidel of smug complacency and incompetence that it is being made out to be today?
    Are we not all just once again indulging in a bit of hysterical band-wagon jumping?

  • Ron Todd

    A new name a trendy new set much the same staff a few new on screen faces from the pool of presenters probably with more of a bias towards ethnic minorities, gays and women (sorry Paxo too white too middle class too male too heterosexual) with similar politics and soon we will not notice the difference.

  • Eddy

    Rod, in your day if a program was about to make an allegation as serious as the one made by Newsnight would a warning have gone up the management chain?

  • Wilhelm

    Had a look at Kirsty Squawk’s Twitter page, God it was hard work reading that pretentious, egotistical, up her own arse, inane, garbage. She really does love herself.

    But not a word about Newsnight , funny that, isn’t it ?

  • William Reid Boyd

    God, I would be sorry to see the end of Newsnight. I don’t watch much telly but Newsnight is one of the few programs I do watch quite regularly (I mean whenever there’s something genuinely newsworthy) and I’m a bit of a Paxman fan myself (ditto Maitlis, Esler).

    What a shame, How could they have screwed up so badly? Rod’s theory that the BBC is determined to shafft itself on its own dick seems about right to me.

  • toby runcorn

    I think you are all falling for it. A person or persons high up wants all this to happen. You are all stepping in line to condemn the Beeb. Just what the guilty want. But if Newsnight goes the guilty, whoever they may be, in the corridors of power will breathe a sigh of relief. They will continue to be protected.

  • Just a license payer.

    No, just change the Guardian reading fantasists that run the show. Political idiots like Gavin Estler shouldn’t run a show that is supposed to be independent. People like me that actually have proper jobs don’t want to pay150 quid a year to watch juvenile left wing student politics.Put Peter Snow and Jeremy Vine back on please, and get rid of the LEFT WING DICKHEADS. thanks.

  • Daniel Maris

    Well I am not surprised he went. Bit difficult to say you are in control when you haven’t put in place a system to make sure you know exactly what’s coming up on progs re anything Savillesque.

    • Lungfish

      But its not George that should have quit- its a left wing dickhead called Gavin fucking Estler. He is a Stalinist twat student prick who should never have been employed by an institution such as the BBC. If only Panorama would investigate Gavin fucking Estler!

      • Baron

        Lungfish, language, language, my blogging friend, being a Stalinist is a must to get a job with the agitprop machine.

        One has to remove whatever it is that allows the monolith to employ the Estlers, to ignore views other than theirs, to soul engineer at will. Without the fee the Estlers wouldn’t be where they are today.

        • Eddie

          Ah yes, but if one is of ethnic appearance, femal or disabled, one can hold any views at one: one will score enough in the pc points contest at the BBC to get the gig (and bonus points are awards for stumps and other disabilities).
          If one had the dreaful disadvantage of being white and male, however, then one must offer more than the ethnics/women/stumpies to stand a chance – perhaps suitable pc and leftwing views, perhaps, or a stinking rich well-connected family, like Jon Snow. Meanwhile, most white men from working or lower middle class backgrounded are rendered unemployed and their talents wasted whilst 4th raters get leapfrogged into the jobs and promotions above them.
          One reason for the balls-up on Newsnight is because the diversity policies at the BBC meant inexperienced, mediocre managers and reporters were working on that show – people who got their jobs because of their female gender or swarthy skin colour. I have only heard one other person make this point but it really is true: if the BBC had appointed through merit alone, even if that meant 100% white men at Newsnight, then this fiasco would probably not have happend.
          J’accuse, BBC.

        • Lungfish

          Yes, sorry Baron, I’d had a few.

  • Wilhelm

    Peter Sissons on BBC Bias ” it’s written through the BBC’s very DNA.”

    • Ruby Duck

      Thanks for the link.

    • Fish

      Was he the poor sap who walked into White City with a copy of the Telegraph under his arm- never seen on screen again.

    • Lungfish


      • Pick a name

        Its strange that a country such as ours has been brought to its knees by political incompetence.

        • Sarah

          Journalistic incompetence.

          + narcissism.

  • Wilhelm

    For years Nick Griffin had written about muslims molesting children in Rochdale. But the BBC didn’t care about that, they wanted to prove that our Nick was a ” waayscist.”

    But in the BBC’s flawed world view being a ” waaycist ” is the crime of the century

    • Austin Barry

      Nah, being a Conservative is worse.

  • Wilhelm

    Yet again the BBC screwed up BIG TIME, George Bentwhistle was doing a good impression of Manuel from Fawlty Towers.

    ” I know nothing.”

    Yeah right, it was like pulling teeth. apparently Bentwhistle doesn’t watch any BBC television or radio programmes or goes on to the BBC website, I’m not surprised.

    • Sarah

      I suppose like most of us, he does his job between 8am and 6pm instead of watching telly or reading the Guardian. Jon Humphries is only busy being a thespian barrister for an hour each weekday morning so has plenty of time on his hands.

  • Wilhelm

    There is nothing more BBC journalists love doing than BBC journalists talking about the BBC.

    Meanwhile in the real world , no one gives a shit.

    • Fish

      No, we do give a shit Wilmers, we pay three and a half billion for it every year.

  • Wilhelm

    Where is Paxman and Kirsty Squawk in all this ? why did they not present Newsnight on Friday ? Why are they hiding ? instead they got a fall guy, Eddie Mair a real smug creep to present the show, they might as well got a sock puppet.

    I loved the way the BBC tried to wriggle out of it and pass the buck, ” it was the internet and twitter what done it.”

    No, Newsnight said last week ” a conservative, high up in the party, an aide to Thatcher was a child molester.”

    ITV should get Conrad Black to interview Paxman and Squawk. Time for the BBC to be closed down.

  • Tron

    Who came up with the phrase “senior Conservative of the Thatcher era”? He could have been described as “a senior politician of the 80’s” but after the Savile case the BBC were desperate to get the words Conservative, Thatcher and paedophile in the same sentence.

    That phrase was repeated over and over again on Radio 2, Radio 4, Radio 5, BBC News and all their many TV channels day after day.
    The BBC know the power of the word Thatcher who is hated by the Labour Party, much of the country, and all of Scotland. Those people would believe any smear on her government.

    Newsnight believed this story because they so wanted it to be true.

    • Esther Gallbladder

      Its Gavin Estler, he hisses and sneers out the word ‘Thatcher’ as though its worse than the worst swear word- same as that utter prick Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news. Heve they not noticed that not everybody in this country is a bleeding heart libtard overpaid twat.

  • statman

    Mcalpine was white,a lord and a conservative so the lefties and commies at the Beeb would hate his guts. It’s time to close that organ of leftist propaganda down and spend the billions saved on looking after our scandalously neglected old age pensioners .

  • Daniel Maris

    Newsnight has always been pulling in different directions: news reporting, news analysis, investigative reporting, cultural reviewing…Jack of all trades perhaps.

    I think perhaps it is the end of the road. For one thing, they’ve kept Paxman (he was once one of Esther’s boys wasn’t he?) for far too long. He has become a roadblock to intelligent interviewing. Asking a question 14 times is not an intelligent way to interview someone. Neither is interrupting and barking at them like a constipated seal.

    Personally, I would relaunch it as a two parter – news analysis and cultural review. Take out the news in the title, call it something like Focus.

    We now have 24 hour news reporting, so we are not starved of news per se. But intelligent analysis (which Newsnight often does well) is in much more short supply. Maybe have a Newsnight debate once a week focussing on a particular issue for 25 minutes. Maybe have the cultural review section switch between visual arts, music and theatre, science, technology, and literature over five nights.

  • JohnOfEnfield

    Entwhistle’s body (face) language in all the interviews since this story broke say that he will be gone by Monday. He has completely lost the plot, has no credibility and has ABSOLUTELY no chance of coming back.

    What can we say about the rest of the management team? They refuse to be interviewed at all! If they refuse to play the “game” how can they expect any future targets for their investigative journalism to come out and face the music? Ms Wark puts out a terse statement most of which is saying that she will make no further comment! Where is Patten? Will he not order them to stand up and answer their critics?

    There is no doubt that this is an existential crisis for the BBC.

    • Glenn Haldane

      JohnOfEnfield is spot on – never mind Newsnight, it should be game over for the BBC. It is an out of control juggernaut and should be broken up.

    • Austin Barry

      It is quite extraordinary that a weak, clueless, pusillanimous man like Entwistle should be appointed DG. He lacks conviction, insight, confidence and fortitude: a sheepish time-server promoted way over his head.

      From Sir John Reith to George Entwistle: entropy in action.

      • Eddie

        But don’t all DGs follow that template? John Birt was a penpushing managerialist (who paid himself through a company so he didn’t pay much tax!).
        My bet is on the BBC doing what all failing institutions do to try and market themselves to an increasingly emotive and moronic public: appoint a woman to the role, above far better men, in order to give the image of modernisation and reform (when in fact handing to keys to an underqualified, inept, untalented token diversity hero).
        George did not deserve to pay for the cock-ups of a few Newsnight managers – and probably his look didn’t help matters (if he’d had group hugs with children and blubbed like a woman – or played a trump card: ‘I was abused as a child and so can feel your pain blah blah blah…he would bo doubt have survived!
        The Newsnight managers (bar one) are still in post, by the way!

  • Eddie

    I just heard the DG claim that a lawyer was involved on this Newsnight story too.

    But really, what I think happened is the Newsnight team was so arrogant that they assumed a ‘victim’ was telling the truth and that the perpetrators he named were thus automatically guilty – this is what most people think anyway, all those mums and members of the mob, and it is also what politicians believe (look at that utter disgrace Harman who thinks men accused of abuse, perhaps by a disgruntled student, should be suspended and identified in the media!

    How long before such an innocent men is lynched by some angry mob? That will be a result of the media whipping up hysteria. And importantly, this does NOTHING to prevent child abuse, most of which occurs in the home and is done by parents.

    This was all so utterly predictable – if you listen to the mob, and perhaps join them, then innocent people get hurt.

    Automatically believing anyone who accuses people of child abuse is as bad as automatically disbelieving them: in both scenarios, innocent people (in the former case, almost always men) get hurt.

    The only rational and intelligent way to deal with child abuse is, frankly, not through the media, who are intrinsically biased because they crave ratings – the police and authorities should investigate such matters in private, and the idiots who make up over 90% of the public should be ignored, no matter how much the mums wail and minge.

    It would be a shame if Newsnight went though, not that I watch it much. It is about the only intellignet news programme left on the BBC. Get rid of Paxo and all we’re left with is Strictly Come Baking whilst Singing On Ice. And the One Show… With Roly Kholi Hardeep Groper Man… Oh my good gawd…

  • John Smith

    Surely they must now accept that the beeb has lost the plot?
    The better beeb journos must despair at the new bunch, senior mgmt and Patton.
    Fiddling whilst Rome burns.
    Now is the time to review PSB, get rid of the unfair TVPollTax and give us a choice, whether we want the failing, reducing in standard, corrupt BBC services.

    Boaden seems to have a track record but seems coated in teflon

  • The Oncoming Storm

    Funny hearing Rantzen preaching about all the lengths Thats Life went to in investigating stories, all the time I was thinking about how it was taken to the cleaners by Dr Sidney Gee…

    There’s one factor at play in the hysteria following the original report last week, notice how many of the people who jumped on this and started leaving hints about who the alleged abuser was were on the Left. The idea that a prominent Thatcher aide was a child abuser must have been like a wet dream for them so they pounced on it as a way of getting at Lady T. Well they’ve been left looking very stupid and forced to issue grovelling apologies, this is just another manifestation of the vile hatred the Left has towards her, also seen in the moronic “Party when Thatcher dies” brigade. Yes you can make justified criticisms of some of her policies but the level of vitriol on the Left goes way beyond that. As others have said elsewhere, the Left is still sore that Thatcher proved them wrong on so many issues so they constantly feel the need to attack her.

    • Eddie

      Yes, you are right – child abuse has been politicised as a way of inventing a conspiracy to try and damage the government. Really sick, this. However, I think politicians of all colours are so desperate to suck up to voters – especially hysterical mums and parents generally – that they are all capable of such amorality.

      I detest Esther Rants-on – I really do think she is high up the top 10 irritating TV presenters of all time. I hated her as much as Jimmy Savile when I was 11 in 1979 and watched her goofy gob gurning at Cyril’s latest rambling piffle.
      Then, in around 1995, I was leading a trip to Salisbury Cathedral and there she was, Esther Rants-on! She was giving a speech to what looked like prep school boys about to go on to their public schools no doubt: to quote La Toothsome One: ‘You boys are the cream – the cream of your generation…’ and so on and so on like some mad royalist woman worshipping a cheap print of Princes Diana.

      It was all I could do to stop myself screaming the following at the stuck-up gurning bouffant-quiffed blockheaded lady spouting this waffle:
      ‘No they are not! They are just 11 year old boys whose parents can afford to send them to prep school, you autocutie airheaded attention-seeking psychophantic TV tit!’

      My inner can driving revolutionary so wanted to so so, but my outer polite professional won the day, and I harrumphed my way around Salisbury Cathedral, desperately trying to get far enough from Mzzzzz Rants-on so her horrible stupid ill-educated drivel would not dribble its evil into innocent and angry ears.

      • Eddie

        Now once again with feeling and minus the torrid typos:

        ‘They are just 11 year old boys whose parents can afford to send them to prep school, you autocutie airheaded attention-seeking sycophantic TV tit!’

        My inner CAB driving revolutionary so wanted to say so, but my outerly polite professional won the day, and I harrumphed my way around Salisbury Cathedral, desperately trying to get far enough from Mzzzzz Rants-on so her horrible stupid ill-educated drivel would not dribble its evil into MY innocent and angry ears.
        BY THE WAY Rants-on’s Childline is questionable indeed: I know people who have found the police turning up to interview them because some spoily little self-pitying brat called Childline. Really – one girl reported a teacher (a 50 something female friend of my family) because she set extra homework and told her off!
        There is a GREAT danger is automatically believing what children (or adults) say – and people should stop being so fucking naive! All teachers know children lie to get what they want – they are usually selfish and greedy little fascists who have no empathy (that only developd as they get hurt and damaged on their course through life…)

        • Sarah

          “I know people…”
          You know person.

          “one girl reported a family friend because…”
          According to said family friend.

          “There is a great danger in automatically believing”
          Which of course nobody did with the child in question, they investigated the claims.
          Whereas you showed no such curiosity about the counter claims.

          • Eddie

            Sarah you psychtic moronic bint. You ASSume as always – and as always ASSUME that the accuser of a man is telling the truth – because you are an utter sexist and your manhating psycosis means you believe all women are good and innocent and all men are nasty big bad wolves. Personally, I think men and women are as moral or immoral as each other – and to argue women are more morally goods is sexist and absurd, not to mention infantilising women in the most sexist way possible!
            I shall correct you dumb assertions:
            1) I know PEOPLE who have suffered because of children calling Childline – I mentioned one example case; I know many more and know of hundreds. Anyone who has been involved in the eductaion system does.
            So you are wrong again, silly bint Sarah. You really are deluded if you think you can somehow magically know anything about my life or experience,or how many cases I know about (delusions of psychosis, obviously).
            2) The family friend was a 50 something woman who was questioned by police because of an allegation made by a kid via Childline that the kid had been mistreated by said teacher. The school and the police immediately closed the case when it was clear that the child was just trying to get back at the teacher because she had told the child off, set homework/detention etc. Why do you (Sarah, a proven nutcase) think you have more knowledge about that case than me? Oh I see – siding automatically with the accuser again, even if they are an utter liar, as many women are of course and many who accuse men of rape and child abuse for reasons of vengeance or because they are mental like you.
            3) People DI automatically believe the accuser – which is why Lord MacAlpine was the victim of a frenzy of mobbing morons like you.
            Get this through you fat hairlipped manhting head, Sarah you sad pathetic noisy little bint:
            AUTOMATICALLY believing someone who accuses someone of a crime – especially child abuse or a sexual offence – is JUST as bad as automatically NOT believing someone who does the same.
            Now, which part of that rational, intelligent argument don’t you understand, love?

            • Sarah

              I’m still confused Ed Hun’.

              I thought you said that the police visited your “family friend” to investigate the claims made by the child against your “family” “friend” in the days before you “voluntarily left” your “teaching” post.

              Who automatically believed who?

              Ed has a family. And a friend. A female one. LMAO. Now that’s stretching credulity.

              • Eddie

                Sarah love – you are ALWAYS confused, dear! As evidences by your disgusting perverted post in which you – a sad shrivelled up mentalist manhating bint insinuate that I am a paedophile or have been accused of child abuse and that’s why I left my teaching post.

                I stated what happened to a family friend – a middle aged woman who some brat accused os whatever on Childline – which was a bundle of lies like most accusations of rape and abuse by mental women like you. Thankfully the authorities and police saw that straight away. I was saying as soon as this frenzied accusations against various men without any real evidence that innocent men would get hurt – and, as usual, I was right.

                You Stoopid Sarah assumes anyone who alleges rape or sexual abuse has happened is telling the truth and the person they accuse is therefore guilty as accused: that dangerous mindset (but only against men huh – not against all those women who kill their babies) is sick, perverted and should be thoroughly discounted by all thinking people.

                You Psycho Sarah have all the integrity of a 4th rate Newsnight Editor who probably only got her job because of the ‘positive action’ that elevates mediocrities to levels they should never be allowed to reach.

                Falsely accusing someone of child abuse is so vile that all who do so should be publicly whipped. That is why cowards like you do not do it in public, but only on anonymous message boards.

                But let’s look on the bright side – at least you haven’t had any children, so we should all be thankful that no poor kids with fall into your evil clutches and live short miserable hateful lives.

                Now go away, Sarah mental woman – perhaps rent a room. Seeing as you spend all day hissing and spitting like a gas leak, perhaps you can turn on the gas (no don’t light it) and do a Sylvia Plath. You are about as tedious and pointless as her selfpiting manhating dirges too. I shall come along later, when you’re nice and cold. OK?

              • Eddie

                False accusations and insinuations by mad as bats bitches like you Sarah actually do lead not only to innocent men being hurt (you’d like that of course) but also in children being abused and not believed when they claim they are.

                People like you who cry wolf and want to raise suspicion over all men are thus guilty of child abuse. You sick little speck of nothingness. All those who make false accusations of abuse should be arrested, charged and if found guilty with evidence, imprisoned. You’d like that though – lots of butch muff to hug in Prisoner Cell Block H eh? Maybe we should put real sick bitches like you in a men’s prison and let you get ‘loved’ there, huh?

                Get it through you mental twisted head than many men leave their teaching posts NOT because they are paedophiles (which disgusting cunts like you will suggest of course) but because of a myriad of reasons – money, ambition, hatred of the tedium of teaching, detestation of the dumbing down of it all and the extremely damaging feminisation of our education system.

                And let’s not forget, you sicko, that most children who are abused are abused by women, not men, and rarely by men outside the home – so if we want to stop child abuse, we should first and foremost start forcibly taking babies away from unfit mothers like you and millions of others – these babies can then be adopted and spared the abuse that your fragmented feminist family structures facilitate.

      • Esther Gallbladder

        You should read Sarum by Edward Rutherford, excellent book.

        • Eddie

          Generally I don’t like historical novels, but I did enjoy London: a novel by the same writer. VERY long at over 1000 pages, but if one considers it a serious of short stories it’s less scary! Then if one does not like one chapter (I didn’t like the modern-day parts) then it’s OK, because one will always like some of them!
          Unfortunately though, whenever I think of the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral, I think of 1) Esther bloody Rants-on ranting on with her stuck-up mumsy moronic class-system propaganda, 2) the 3 hr long coach journey back to Oxford or Kent, with all staff so desperate for a wee it was painful; 3) noisy foreign teenagers being late, shoplifting etc.

      • Ron Todd

        Didn’t she get her first leg up at the BBC by getting a leg over at the BBC with somebody elses husband?

        • Eddie

          I believe old Esther did that, yes – but then TV is full of amoral callous people who would quite happily butcher and roast their grandmothers to get on in their TV careers. Women do often go for the ‘entrapping’ route. Lots of women in the BBC have used it. Nowadays however the ‘positive action’ and ‘unofficial female quota’ method is more popular.

          In fact, one way into the BBC used to be this: Become a barmaid at the Red Lion near BBCTV centre in Hammersmith, flirt with the (in those days) male producers who’d come in for a drink every day (because the BBC sobered up and dumbed down in a sort of sine curve of decline) – get off with them, leave the barmaid job and start working as a researcher on That’s Life or whatever. Really.
          The people who work in TV really are vile and have the morality of rats. Trust me – I used to write for the cunts. Especially at the BBC.

    • David Lindsay

      The Tories are just not very good at politics anymore.

      Thus, everyone knows that there was at least one paedophile in Thatcher’s Cabinet (which McAlpine never was, still less has he ever been so high profile as to be recognisable even to institutionalised children), although no one yet knows who; someone dead will probably be found to lift the cloud from everyone still alive. Whereas next to no one knows about Harriet Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange.

      They are both true. But one party’s enemies know what they are doing, while the other’s just don’t.

      • Daniel Johnson

        List of convicted Labour Party paedophiles:

        • David Lindsay

          Thereby rather proving my point.

  • A Common Reader

    It is hard to see the George Entwhistle continuing to exist in his present form after this morning’s mauling on Today. Where is Helen Boaden, Head of News by the way? Could she step forward for an interview sometime? Or is she hiding somewhere?