The BBC report on the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal has been released and it seems to exonerate then BBC head and current Times leader Mark Thompson.
The NY Times has decided to leash the dogs of war, ignore their own previous reporting, and move on. From their latest coverage (my emphasis):
Mr. Thompson has said that he was not briefed about the “Newsnight” investigation before its cancellation, was not involved in canceling it, and did not know about the allegations of sexual abuse against Mr. Savile until the report about the cancellation appeared on ITV, a commercial competitor of the BBC.
The report does not dispute Mr. Thompson’s public statements that he did not know about the Savile investigation until it had been killed.
If that is true then the scope of Mr. Thompson's ignorance has expanded greatly since he began denying knowledge last October. Let's cut to the Times archives (my emphasis):
In a statement released on Oct. 13, Mr. Thompson issued a blanket denial of any knowledge of the squelched BBC report. “I was not notified or briefed about the ‘Newsnight’ investigation,” he said, adding that “during my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile.”
But on Tuesday, in a letter in response to Mr. Wilson, the Parliament member, Mr. Thompson appeared to adjust his answer slightly, saying, “I was never formally notified about the ‘Newsnight’ investigation and was not briefed about the allegations they were examining and to what extent, if at all, those allegations related to Savile’s work at the BBC.”
To repeat myself - Mr. Thompson had a long career at the BBC, beginning in 1979. Saying that he was never formally briefed or informed of allegations against Jimmy Savile while chairman (2004-2012) is quite different from saying he never heard any allegations at all. So, has he modified his earlier expression of ignorance, or is the Times generously expanding it for him?
So when the Times tells us today that "did not know about the allegations of sexual abuse against Mr. Savile until the report about the cancellation appeared on ITV" they seem to be denying more than Mr. Thompson ever did himself.
Now, for all I know they have interviewed their chairman and gotten this expanded denial directly from him. But since this goes beyond his earlier public statements a bit of clarity is in order. Would they care to run a direct quote from Mr. Thompson with this new denial?
DYNAMIC EDITING: Yes, I wrote the Public Editor. And not to suggest causation, but The Times has changed their website version, which now appears in the Thursday Dead Tree edition. Here is their current effort:
The report also did not challenge the assertions of Mark Thompson, then head of the BBC, that he had no role in killing the Savile investigation and was unaware of the sexual abuse accusations until he left the BBC this September. Mr. Thompson is now president and chief executive of The New York Times Company.
That still denies more than Mr. Thompson denied in his previous public statements. FWIW, the old version seems to have been clipped to this site.