Special Edition: It’s Good to Live in a Two-Times Company Town (X Marks the Thompson Spot)

November 17, 2012

Friday’s New York Times featured what might be the first chime in the death knell of newly minted New York Times Company CEO Mark Thompson.

Letter Raises Questions About When BBC Ex-Chief Learned of Abuse Cases

A legal letter sent on behalf of Mark Thompson, the former director general of the BBC, raises questions about his assertions that he learned of accusations of sexual abuse against its longtime host Jimmy Savile only after leaving the corporation’s top job.

In the letter, sent 10 days before Mr. Thompson left the BBC in September, lawyers representing him and another executive threatened to sue The Sunday Times in London over contentions in an article it was preparing that they had been involved in killing a BBC investigation of Mr. Savile.

Interviews show that the letter included a summary of the alleged abuse, including the allegation that some abuse might have occurred at the BBC.

Translation: Thompson at the very least misremembered when he became aware of the Jimmy Savile row.

At worst, this is just the first shoe to drop. At best . . . well, there is no best.

Meanwhile, the Times kissin’ cousin Boston Globe has yet to even grab a shoehorn.

The Globe’s most extensive reference to the Thompson kerfuffle ran in this October 26 pickup from the Times wire service:

The scandal has drawn in several top figures at the BBC, including its current director general, George Entwistle, who took over in September from Mark Thompson, the incoming president and chief executive of The New York Times Co.

Thompson was director general of the BBC when the editor of a current affairs program canceled an investigation into Savile in late 2011, just as other divisions of the BBC were planning Christmastime tributes to him a few months after his death at age 84.

Thompson has said repeatedly that he knew nothing about the investigation by the ‘‘Newsnight’’ program while it was under way, had no role in canceling it and also had heard none of the suspicions about Savile.

On Thursday, Thompson won an enthusiastic endorsement from Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of The New York Times Co. and the publisher of The Times.

Since then, a whole lot of nothing.

The hardreading staff sort of feels Globeniks are entitled to something more.

 


Herald Dogs Times On Jimmy Savile Row; Globe Just Dodges

October 26, 2012

The Boston Herald has been on the BBC/Jimmy Savile scandal like Brown on Williamson, and today’s edition extends the drumbeat.

Despite gaffe, Times’ Sulzberger gives Thompson vote of confidence

New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who has been acting as interim CEO, offered a vote of confidence for embattled incoming CEO Mark Thompson today, but also made a gaffe on the company’s earnings call that linked him to the late BBC alleged sex predator Jimmy Savile.

“We’re delighted to welcome Mark Thompson,” said Sulzberger, reiterating the former BBC director general’s Nov. 12 start date at the Times.

Then, Sulzberger referred to the alleged pedophile and longtime BBC TV host as “Mark Savile” before correcting himself.

Sulzberger also sent a letter yesterday to Times staffers (who are embroiled in a contract dispute with Times management) that said this in part (via Romenesko.com):

At the New England Media Group, BostonGlobe.com recently marked its one-year anniversary and continues to make steady progress in growing paid digital subscriptions. The team has implemented a variety of initiatives to increase reader interest and engagement, and to strengthen subscription opportunities. And the August launch of Boston.com’s new live streaming radio station, RadioBDC, is just the latest of the site’s ongoing efforts to broaden its reach in the market.

I want to address a topic that has been on many people’s minds. You no doubt have read the recent reports of a controversy regarding the BBC’s decision in late 2011 to cancel a news story investigating allegations of sexual abuse and molestation by an on-air BBC talent, Jimmy Savile, who died last year. Mark has provided a detailed account of that matter, and I am satisfied that he played no role in the cancellation of the segment.

Meanwhile, the Times’ kissin’ cousin Boston Globe has played no role in examining its connection to the Mark Thompson rumpus.

Here’s what the hardsearching staff found on the Globe website around 1 am:

Try fewer keywords?

Try more coverage, Globeniks.

 


Boston Globe Writes Off Jimmy Savile Row

October 24, 2012

The Transatlantic rumpus over alleged sexual abuse of children by the late BBC television host Jimmy Savile gets double coverage in the New York Times today. First up, this John Burns report on the latest developments in a scandal that’s turning the BBC into a pretzel.

BBC Leader Admits ‘Horror’ as a Sexual Abuse Inquiry Opens

LONDON — As the first of a battery of inquiries into Britain’s burgeoning sexual abuse scandal opened in a parliamentary committee room on Tuesday, lawmakers reacted with stunned incredulity and barely disguised anger as they sought answers to the painful questions being asked in every living room, commuter train and pub in the country.

How could this have happened, over decades, without action to stop it? How could some of the country’s most respected institutions — among them the BBC, the National Health Service, police forces in London and other areas, as well as the national prosecuting authority — have failed to bring the accused principal abuser to book? How could so many vulnerable young girls and boys — more than 200, according to the police — have been exposed to such vileness, for so long,and so blatantly, without anybody stepping in to help them?

The occasion was the opening of hearings by the House of Commons committee on culture, media and sport, and the matter at hand cascading revelations in the past month that have portrayed one of Britain’s most beloved television hosts, Jimmy Savile, who died last year at 84, as an insatiable pedophile, a predator who abused teenagers in children’s homes, in hospitals for the emotionally disturbed, in BBC dressing rooms yards from stage sets where he made himself a national idol.

Also being questioned: Why did the show “BBC Newsnight” kill an investigative report into Savile’s actions?

Here’s what the Times says:

Channel 4 television reported Tuesday that it had seen an e-mail from a BBC reporter, Liz Mackean, in which she said the editor of “BBC Newsnight,” Peter Rippon, who had shelved an investigative report she was working on, had diminished the seriousness of Mr. Savile’s abuse by saying of the victims, “The girls were teenagers, not too young,” and that “they weren’t the worst kind of sexual offenses.”

Really?

The second piece in today’s Times – and this is where it gets even more interesting – examines the role of Mark Thompson, former BBC head, future New York Times Co. CEO.

Former BBC Head Says He Had No Role in Squelching Program

Mark Thompson, the former head of the British Broadcasting Corporation who has been drawn into the scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse against the former television personality Jimmy Savile, reiterated in an interview on Tuesday that he was not aware of an investigative report prepared for the BBC program “Newsnight” into Mr. Savile’s behavior until after the investigation was canceled.

Both in the interview and in a letter to Parliament, Mr. Thompson, who is also the incoming chief executive of The New York Times Company, said that he was made aware that “Newsnight” had been investigating Mr. Savile only during a conversation with a reporter at a company holiday party last December.

Thompson’s party line:”There is nothing to suggest that I acted inappropriately in the handling of this matter.” That’s about as good a defense as the Washington Generals put up against the Harlem Globetrotters.

NYT kissin’ cousin Boston Globe runs a perfunctory pickup of the Times report, with no mention of the Thompson mishegosss.

That’s left, as the hardworking staff predicted about 10 hours ago, to the Boston Herald, which features this on page 2:

Is new Times CEO fit for print?

Ex-BBC chief accused of shelving sex abuse expose

The New York Times [NYT]’ public editor is questioning whether incoming Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson “is the right person for the job,” even as a British lawmaker has accused the former BBC director general of changing his story about the spiking of a news report on sex abuse allegations surrounding the late TV personality Jimmy Savile.

“Mark Thompson has already had to correct his version of events once. He originally implied that he knew nothing about the Newsnight investigation, before admitting that a BBC journalist had told him he had reasons to worry about it,” said Rob Wilson, a member of Parliament from Reading East, who has questioned Thompson’s role and whether there was a BBC cover up regarding Savile. “Now it appears he may have known more about the subject of the Newsnight investigation than he has previously admitted.”

The pedophile sex abuse scandal involving the late BBC TV host is the talk of Britain and the timing couldn’t be much worse for the Times, which tapped Thompson in August before the scandal erupted.

Of course, the public editor’s piling on doesn’t help either, especially with the headline “Times Must Aggressively Cover Mark Thompson’s Role in BBC’s Troubles.”

Ditto for the Globe, dontcha think?

 


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