Quick! Dig Yourself in Deeper!

Earlier this week, I posted about the BBC’s involvement in recent scandals, and their transparent attempts to change the subject (Quick!  Talk About Something Different!) from their own scandals.

Today, it got worse — much, much worse.

The person that Newsnight targeted is innocent, and the man who brought the accusation has apologised:

A victim of sexual abuse while he was a resident of a north Wales care home has apologised for making false allegations against a Conservative politician.

….

Mr Messham has offered “sincere and humble apologies” to the peer and his family.

In a statement on Friday evening Mr Messham said: “After seeing a picture in the past hour of the individual concerned, this [is] not the person I identified by photograph presented to me by the police in the early 1990s, who told me the man in the photograph was Lord McAlpine.”

Did Newsnight not even show him a picture of Lord McAlpine before blasting allegations over the airwaves?  Did they do anything to verify if the allegations could even possibly be true or not?  Did they check for evidence that Lord McAlpine had been in Wrexham at the time, or had the kind of car described, or stayed at the hotel alleged, or fit in any way the accusations?  Or did they just rush a story out the door, and if so, why?

Media commentator Steve Hewlitt (same link) sounds like he read from my earlier post:

For the BBC this is just a disaster. You have a programme like Newsnight which in the last few weeks has been flayed alive for not broadcasting something that probably was true (about Jimmy Savile) and has now responded – or that’s how it appears – by broadcasting something that flagrantly wasn’t true.

How on earth did it get on air? If there are questions about the BBC these just multiply them. What does this say about the BBC’s journalistic standards? It looks like it was done on the rebound. (emphasis added)

So while rebounding / changing the subject, the BBC actually reported “flagrant” untruth, with enough details that everyone knew of whom they were speaking, but making sure to hypocritically note now at the top of the article that they didn’t name him.

Deuteronomy 19:15

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Christians should not be quick to believe every report that comes out in the press (or on the BBC).  That is especially the case when there is the least hint that the report is being rushed out, whether the rush is to distract from other things or just an attempt to “scoop” the competition.  We can always ask ourselves, “Just how many witnesses do they have to support this story?”  And with the BBC (and they aren’t alone, sadly), we have to ask, “Do these people actually have any credibility at all, or is there an agenda (hidden or obvious)?  Did they check this out carefully, and are we getting the whole story?”

Christians have the right, as citizens and taxpayers, to expect the government to hold the BBC accountable.  By the time all the legal expenses are taken care of, this one might cost a wee bit.

But for us, it is a classic example of how failing to respond properly often gets us into deeper and deeper trouble.  And the further we go in that failure, the worse the trouble gets.

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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