Diary: Entwistle was helped onto his sword by the brilliant John Humphrys

Today's diary looks at who's left the BBC, who the bookies think will be next, and the thoroughly unedifiying gloating of Rupert Murdoch

Share
Related Topics

George Entwistle’s sprint into retirement begs a question. Did he, by picking John Humphrys for his Today programme interview on Saturday morning, willingly commit professional suicide?

Any of Humphrys’s fellow Today presenters Evan Davis, Justin Webb or Sarah Montague would have been respectful to their director general. In 16 minutes of cross-examination by Jim Naughtie, 15-and-a-half would have gone on the questions.

Mr Entwistle must have known he was walking into a hail of bullets when he took the last-moment decision – Humpo had no idea he was coming almost until he arrived – to go on the programme.

As Chris Patten said yesterday, languidly batting away superinjunctor Andy Marr’s military-medium, no one expects “slow, full tosses” from Humphrys, which is what makes him “a great journalist”. So he is, and for an illuminative reminder of BBC greatness in its darkest hour – do you recall much lethal grilling of the Murdochs on Sky News during theirs? – the Beeb should be on its knees with gratitude. That is where one imagines Mr Entwistle today. His spirit crushed and facing a horribly drawn out death, he wisely went for career suicide by cop.

Outsiders looking in

On the assumption that Patten survives as Trust chairman for the few weeks required, the first show of betting on the next DG is as follows. The imperative for an untainted, external candidate makes Ofcom boss Ed Richards – whom Patten overlooked last time when presciently deciding that Entwistle would do a bang-up job – a prohibitive 2-7 favourite, with Anne Robinson next on 14-1. Bracketed on 25s are BBC1 controller Danny Cohen, chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, and Trojan Horse candidate Alastair Campbell.

The late Mr Pastry and ITV’s Kevin Lygo (my cousin by marriage whom I have now met) are on 66s, and it’s 100-1 bar those. My preference is Gerald Kaufman, the one-time media select committee chair who seems ideally suited to the Mr Chips wartime interim headmaster role, gently steering the organisation through the bombings and keeping everyone’s spirits up with tea and cake by the fire. The bookies disagree, and quote Sir G at 750-1.

Meanwhile Murdoch is one to gloat...

The Tweet of the Week came before the Entwistle resignation. “Editor-in-chief apologises and pleads total ignorance,” wrote a gleeful Rupert Murdoch. “What are editors for?”

Well, quite. No Murdoch editor would ever deny knowledge of what went on under their aegis (dodgy newsroom practices, six-figure payments to private investigators, whatever). That sceptical “pleads total ignorance” carries all the moral authority and self-awareness we expect of Rupert. Is there anything more pernicious in a media monolith than wilful blindness at the top?

Mad Mel on Obama – a rant too far

I am appalled by the social media reaction to Melanie Phillips’s blogged response to the re-election of Obama (“a sulky narcissist with close links to people with a history of thuggish, far-left, black power, Jew-bashing, West-hating politics”). Judging by the trolls, you’d have guessed that she’d gone doolally.

But a glance at the article “America Goes Into The Darkness”, where she foresees Obama colluding with Iran to build a “genocide bomb”, gives the lie to that. Some will always misrepresent her, but so long as the Daily Mail hosts her column and BBC producers ask her on Question Time, she will speak for the silent majority who share her world view. Viva Mad Mel!

A £714 reprise for the Blair heckler?

A final reminder that David Lawley-Wakelin, the hero who interrupted Mr Tony Blair’s Leveson appearance to accuse him of war crimes, is up before the Highgate magistrates on a public order rap on Friday.

Mr Tony will not be there. However, he is scheduled  to lecture on “resilience in leadership” on Tuesday at a University College-hosted conference (tickets are a snip at £714). The venue is kept secret for fear of disturbance, but if David can discover it, will he prepare for his date with justice by nipping along to reprise his appearance at Leveson?

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
It's not only the British who haven't been behaving well abroad; pictured here are German fans celebrating their team's latest victory  

Holiday snaps that bite back: What happens in Shagaluf no longer stays in Shagaluf

Ellen E Jones
Simon Laird (left) and Sister Simon Laird, featured in the BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets  

Estates of the nation: Let's hear it for the man in the street

Simmy Richman
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?