Last Wednesday the BBC formally dropped Jeremy Clarkson following an internal investigation (which found the Top Gear presenter responsible for an unprovoked physical and verbal attack on a colleague) despite Clarkson’s many and repeated apologies for the incident. The presenter, the Director General Lord Hall said, had crossed a line and that is why they were not going to renew his contract.
Lord Hall must think us naive to believe that was their only consideration. Clarkson, after all, is not the first person at the BBC to have engaged in unprovoked behaviour. An extraordinary story has come to light, via leaked emails between Jeremy Paxman and Allan Massey, that Mark Thompson, a former Director General of the BBC no less, seriously bit (rather than biffed) an unsuspecting colleague.
No one at the BBC can deny the incident. Yet on this occasion strangely there was no internal enquiry. The then the upwardly aspirant Editor of the Nine O’Clock News was let off the hook. In fact so determined were the BBC to hush up the affair that Massey was promptly sent to Rwanda on a perilous assignment
Even if hushing was not an option couldn’t Clarkson have been given a warning?
No. For this is the right-on, politically-correct BBC of 2015, and entirely different considerations to the simple question of right or wrong – or indeed of remorse – apply. How the BBC metes out justice is far from consistent.
It has form on playing fast and loose with process and principles of fairness. The very same management board was excoriated by an employment tribunal only last August.
The BBC’s idea of justice then was the kangaroo-court sacking of a man they’d decided to make the scapegoat for the disastrous £100m+ loss in the Corporation’s Digital Media Initiative. With shameless disregard for principles of equity, they outrageously hung out this poor man out to dry for their collective failings.
This is the same bunch of senior executives as Kathy Gyngell has noted who confronted with criticism from a House of Commons Committee responds by shoving its fingers in its ears and stating contemptuously that such criticism is a breach of their independence.
They are the judge and jury in all matters of political balance. They simply put two fingers up and cry the journalistic equivalent of rape to anyone who dares challenge them.
Similarly when confronted with rational arguments about why its form of funding, the licence fee – the collection of which criminalises thousands of harder-up Britons – should be changed, the BBC’s modus operandi is to attempt to discredit those, like the doughty MP Andrew Bridgen, who advocate change.
Never mind that as a publicly funded body it gobbles up £4 billion of our cash each year.
In other words, the Corporation in its attitudes and outlook towards due process has all the morals of an alley cat.
Last but not least in the Clarkson affair is that Top Gear is one of the few parts of BBC output that dares to be politically incorrect and to reflect that in some important respects, men are different from women and have different pursuits and attitudes that they relish. The PC brigade’s clamour to sack him from Top Gear was about this (the more the public enjoy it the more the feministas hate it) and far less about the alleged fracas with producer Oisin Tymon. It was Clarkson’s willingness to challenge a craven consensus that did him in.
Almost every element of BBC output from dramas and history programmes and from wildlife to news and current affairs is now produced and fronted by an identikit army of Guardianistas who espouse with campaigning vigour as a central part of the worldview a cocktail of feminist, multicultural, and everything-but-heterosexual views.
In their universe, unrestrained masculinity is something that led to the horrors of the British Empire, and prevented women from working, and therefore should be despised, repressed and mistrusted.
Yet the abhorred Top Gear yielded almost £50m a year for BBC coffers and Clarkson’s gung-ho charm had created a brand since he revived the programme in 2002 that sold and was relished in dozens of overseas markets. Current BBC thinking would probably cast Stephen Fry as the ideal host – but how long would the programme last if he was? That now is Lord Hall’s dilemma.
But the reality is that the management board probably don’t really care about commercial considerations. What matters is that they have got rid of another irritant of feminism. They have a guaranteed income of £4bn a year and to them, all that matters is their PC agenda.
The sacking of Clarkson should be seen in that context. Would anyone want to be judged by a body with arrogance, self-righteousness and Machiavellian scheming at the heart of its management culture?