If you are a Sun reader, you will probably not like what I am about to say. My disdain for that tawdry excuse for a newspaper, which has long sunk from the gutters into the sewers, is only exceeded my disdain and indeed contempt for the man who owns it, the not even slightly honourable Rupert Murdoch. He has but the one ambition, which is to be the biggest media player on the planet and he will do anything to achieve his aims.
Murdoch loathes the BBC. He objects to the very idea of public service broadcasting and, through his newspapers and via the politicians with whom he associates, campaigns tirelessly to diminish the BBC. Murdoch’s power is truly frightening. He owns four national newspapers and, with Sky, he is beginning to accumulate a near monopoly of sport and movies on TV. He will not rest until the BBC is no more, whether by being scrapped altogether or being reduced to a tiny minority subscription channel, like public service broadcasting is in America. And with his friends in high places, that is to say the current government, he is succeeding in his aim.
The Sun has this week gained access to the report about the activities of Jimmy Savile and has concluded that the BBC is to blame for everything, so much so that Savile himself was a mere bit player in his serial offending. Let’s be clear that the BBC does not come out of the affair smelling of roses. It is widely believed that some at the very top of the organisation knew far more about Savile’s activities than they let on. There is some evidence that there was a cover-up at the highest level and if there was it will need to be investigated and the perpetrators exposed. I get all that, but there is one overwhelming fact about this: Savile was the real guilty party. If others ignored what he was doing or perhaps turned a blind eye, then that deserves a full investigation.
Everyone who is interested in learning the Savile story in its entirety will benefit from reading Dan Davies’s definitive biography ‘Jimmy Savile: his life and lies’. As an investigative story, it rivals Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s All The President’s Men. It reveals Savile to be an enormously powerful and manipulative man who had friends in high places. The Pope, Margaret Thatcher, the Royal Family, senior police officers who met at his Leeds flat every Friday and all manner of influential people were under his spell. If you spoke or acted against him, you were up against the full might of almost the entire establishment.
I cannot hold my hands up and say that the BBC does not have questions to answer. Savile worked for the corporation for many years so they cannot say “it was nothing to do with me, guv”, but where was everyone else? How about the News of the World, that doyen of investigative journalism, fearlessly seeking out and exposing scandal? All those whispers that circulated for decades about Savile – and let’s face it, everyone thought he was a bit odd – did not reach Britain’s best selling Sunday newspaper, or its best selling daily for that matter. Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World. Was it asleep on the job, or did the paper not have the bottle to take on the establishment or, perhaps, as I have long believed, it is part of the very establishment it purports to oppose. Perhaps the News of the World was too busy hacking the phones of murdered schoolgirls or movie stars to notice what was going on?
I have not seen beyond the Sun’s anti-BBC headlines this week because I know the narrative will be. By the time you’ve finished reading you will be reasonably sure that the BBC is run by rapists and paedophiles and that Jimmy Savile was a mere victim. Or something. All right, that might be an exaggeration, but bear in mind the Sun expose is more about the BBC than Savile, such are the lowly principles of Rupert Murdoch.
The truth about Savile is out there, in Davies’s book, and it makes for difficult reading. Whatever the faults and shortcomings of others, there is only one person to blame for Savile’s offending and that is Savile. Let’s start from that point and investigate how he got away and not seek to blame others for the basic crimes.