The long-running saga about gender inequality at the BBC became further mired in controversy when Carrie Gracie, who resigned her post as China editor, told MPs that the corporation was guilty of misleading her in salary negotiations and of wrongly classifying her as a ‘part-time’ worker. She claimed the BBC was ‘diminished and damaged’ by its dishonesty over women’s pay because it ‘lives or dies by its reputation for telling the truth’.
This truth-telling reputation will come as news to most BBC viewers, even if it does not make the BBC News, for if they do not tell outright lies, they do not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Their main TV news could more accurately be described as ‘Views at Six’ – an exercise in highlighting any event, anniversary, or report that serves to confirm their pre-existing view on any given subject, from Brexit to Donald Trump to the NHS to terrorism. Their latest exercise in fake news, the alleged harassment of women seeking abortions, is a non-event for which they have absolutely no evidence; the fact that they should know all the facts, rather than uncritically relaying the press releases of BPAS, throws doubt on their reputation for honesty and also makes it even harder to excuse them for not telling the whole truth.
Thanks to the licence fee, they will not die for not telling the truth, but they do live and die by ‘diversity’, and they may well die of embarrassment because they have been caught transgressing the tenets of their own religion.
The BBC’s director-general Lord Hall, who also gave testimony to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, was forced to deny that the corporation was run by an ‘old boys’ network’, but like her co-campaigners, Ms Gracie seems to be intent on mobilising the ‘old girls’ network’ of highly paid, privileged co-residents in the same publicly funded media bubble to wring even more money out of the embattled BBC. Both management and ‘workers’ are linked by their disdain for capitalism, but a dose of competition from the free market might encourage them to earn their money by raising their game rather than expecting it to be doled out on a strictly equitable basis even when individual roles are not strictly comparable.
Ms Gracie was said to be ‘close to tears’ while giving her parliamentary testimony, describing the pay dispute as a ‘Greek tragedy’, although if you work for the world’s most prominent grievance monger, discovering a personal grievance must be something to celebrate rather than mourn. Indeed, after the inevitable victory over pay, she would do well to consider forming a permanent alliance with fellow women journalists, dedicated to marching against similar non-injustices suffered by privileged females; perhaps they could call themselves MOAN – Marching On About Nothing. Far from being a Greek tragedy, the whole saga is more redolent of a Whitehall farce.