Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Lot going on today regards Hutton and I think Jon Snow's got a good opinion on it all, considering he works for a rival broadcaster (taken from Snowmail - Click here to subscribe:

"Good afternoon, Jon Snow here with my first reaction to the Hutton
report:


Hutton verdict: Government good; BBC bad
========================================
You don't order a public inquiry in this country as Prime Minister
unless you are pretty confident of its outcome. Lord Hutton has rewarded
Tony Blair's confidence. The Hutton Report into the death of Britain's
top Iraq Weapons Inspector completely vindicates the Government in almost
every quarter. There is mild criticism of unnamed Ministry of Defence
officials for not caring more for Dr Kelly after he had been revealed
as the source of the BBC's claim that Downing Street had 'sexed up'
their dossier on Iraq's WMD.

Mr Blair attracts no criticism from the Judge, neither does the Defence
Secretary Geoff Hoon, nor the top civil servant in the Defence
Department, Kevin Tebbit. So in short, the Prime Minister did not lie. The BBC
however did broadcast a lie, according to Hutton and fell down on its
management systems. Hutton's findings damn the BBC, it will be a very
difficult time for them.

In the end there is a culture clash surrounding this report. Whenever
there is doubt involving the Government Lord Hutton determines that
Government acts with integrity, journalists tend to regard the Government
with scepticism. The true case for war has still not been inquired into
nor the failure of the intelligence services. Though David Kay, who
resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group only last week is giving
evidence in Washington this afternoon. We'll see what he has to say.

Whatever, the likelihood is that the BBC and its fate will now come to
dominate the debate rather than the issues surrounding the war. As
regards the BBC, whatever mistakes were made, Government clashes with the
state broadcaster are dangerous, there are implications for every
journalist. This is very dicey territory. We could find that the death of
David Kelly ends up robbing Britain of the best public service broadcaster
in the world. To the great joy of several newspaper magnates and their
empires.
More at: http://www.channel4.com/news/2004/01/week_4/28_hutton.html

This is one of the most worrying and difficult days of my broadcasting
career. I hope we rise to the occasion. We shall be trying at seven.

Hope to see you then

I wish you well,

Jon Snow"


So, leaving aside the important questions still remaining and which the government, for all they say, ARE ignoring, will the government (and remember the Conservatives were always anti-BBC so no support there...) be happy with a neutered and servile BBC, once world-reknown? Yes, important mistakes were made but rushed changes could have an even bigger impact down the line. We shall see...

N.B. on same subject, different note, the FT got David Kelly's name first, followed by the Mail, Telegraph (plus another whose name escapes me from Lord Hutton's summary today); then the Times got it - after asking twenty other names first. Someone not on the ball at Murdoch HQ?

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