Jimmy Savile: Media reaction

Papers

The Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal continues to generate headlines.

The number of possible victims is "fast approaching" 300, sources close to the police investigation have indicated.

Meanwhile, the BBC remains under the spotlight with questions still being raised over why the corporation dropped a Newsnight inquiry into the late TV presenter. But some commentators are now also asking whether the wider impact of the case and its victims are being ignored.

"The BBC still doesn't get it. Lord Patten, chairman of the Trust that oversees the BBC on behalf of taxpayers, says sniffily that the government should respect the Beeb's "independence" — in other words, keep its nose out of the Savile scandal. Such arrogance. It typifies the BBC attitude that it is above criticism and answerable only to itself... Patten's duty, if only he could grasp it, is to wake up to the gravity of the BBC's failings.

Leading article, The Sun

"Liz MacKean did believe. Acting in the very best tradition of BBC journalism, she did her research and found out that Jim had fixed it to escape prosecution. She put together a powerful story that vindicated Savile's victims and damned their doubters. The fact that the story was not broadcast... is a scar on the face of the world's most trusted broadcaster... There are plenty more skeletons to come out of the corporation's closet. Police say they are now investigating an 'organised paedophile ring' made up of stars such as Savile, off-screen staff and even politicians. Their victims deserve all the help and support the BBC can give them."

Alison Pearson, Daily Telegraph

"It seems some people are still fundamentally missing the point. This is a story about an environment of abuse, how it flourished in plain sight, how supposedly 'good guys' did nothing to stop it, and how girls are never really to be trusted. Or never actually a priority. Some weird cultural transference has taken place to turn all this into a crisis of trust in the BBC... The critics have been aided by the muffled, ill-informed and frankly useless appearances of those at the top of the organisation. These guys appear to lack ability, humility or even basic empathy. When the bosses of the other institutions, prisons and hospitals involved have to explain how Savile was given a free run to sick and vulnerable people, we may hope they are better prepared."

Suzanne Moore, The Guardian

"There is certainly no shortage of issues in the Jimmy Savile scandal for which the BBC deserves criticism... It is time for some proportion. Of course, the possibility of a cover-up must be fully explored. But the real issue here is the crimes committed by Savile (and possibly others). And although the revelations so far reflect appallingly on the BBC's past, they are at least as much an exemplar of wider social issues around sexual abuse. After all, this is no isolated incident in either time or place, as the recent case of girls groomed for sex in Rochdale so grimly illustrates."

Leading article, The Independent

"A paedophile ring is now linked with No 10. MP Tom Watson said there's 'clear evidence' connected to someone close to an ex-prime minister. That's on top of claims of nine sex fiends at the BBC. Not including sick Jimmy Savile. So now that's two major taxpayer-funded institutions embroiled in sex scandals at our expense. And the revelations are growing daily. How much more is going on that we don't even know about yet? We're constantly told we're all in this together. That we need to work together as a country. But from what we've learnt recently is really is one law for them. And one law for us plebs."

Leading article, Daily Star

"Anyone with a heart, watching the horrifying testimony of one victim of Jimmy Savile... would have felt compelled to take action. The BBC filmed the interview than proceeded to shelve the evidence of its failure... It was if as if General Electric were run by individual plant managers or Carrefour by store managers, and head office executives did not think it was their role to lead. The notion is perilous, both to the chances of Mark Thompson, Mr Entwistle's predecessor as director-general, taking up his new role as chief executive of the New York Times as planned next month, and for the BBC's future."

John Gapper, Financial Times

"There were at least five DG's during Savile's abusing years and George was not one. There were 40 years to stop the abuse while Savile was alive, let alone make a programme about it, so why concentrate on one film that wasn't even proposed until after its villain was dead? Is it possible that many of us - especially media types - find it easier to comprehend a TV dust-up than an anatomy of misery. Or that, in the absence of being able to dig up Savile and behead his corpse, the pink bonce of the new DG will just have to be brought to us instead?"

David Aaronovitch, The Times

"The shaming of Jimmy Savile leaves a sizeable dent in the notion that Britain used to be a safer, more trustworthy place. When Panorama broadcast the footage of the fundraising younger Savile on his travels, running around Britain in that faded colour of old TV clips, it was not just one man's reputation on trial but our comfortable perceptions about our recent history. Was Britain really safer back then? Or were there just a lot more secrets, and not-so-secret things that no-one dared to talk about? The Savile story is being presented as part of a wider era-defining crisis of confidence in some of the major institutions of our state."

David James, Wales Online

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