You have to hand it to Rupert Murdoch. The BBC is in turmoil and now being led by Tim Davie, its former audio and music chief whose journalistic experience does not even run to making cups of tea at the Scunthorpe Gazette. Mr Davie needs help, especially as he fancies his chances of keeping the top job. So who is he turning to? Mr Steerpike is reliably informed that he’s being advised by his old mate Matthew Freud. That’s right: Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law.
Our dynamic duo has not had the best start. Yesterday, Mr Davie filmed a car-crash interview with Sky News in which he revealed that his broadcasting skills did not even extend to being able to look into a camera or even finishing an interview before walking off.
And his management skills? He sidelined BBC’s Head of News, Helen Boaden, and her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, following the furore about the Newsnight/Lord McAlpine story (which neither were involved in having recused themselves after the Jimmy Savile fiasco). Both are consulting their lawyers, having seen the jackpot that the BBC pays out when it screws up and panics.
Boden’s salary: £354,000. Entwistle’s payoff: £450,000. But the look on Rupert Murdoch’s face when he hears that his son-in-law is pulling the strings of the new, clueless BBC chief? Priceless.
UPDATE: The BBC confirms the friendship, but says the relationship is not professional. “Tim Davie has known Matthew Freud for many years. However, neither Tim Davie nor the BBC has engaged Matthew Freud to do any work or provide any advice whatsoever”. The key word is “engaged”. Mr Steerpike understands that Freud is not being paid for his advice, so he would not be formally “engaged”. The BBC, when asked to clarify, said only that it was “comfortable” with its line.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.