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John Humphrys and George Entwistle

November 13, 2012

I was captivated by John Humphrys interview with George Entwistle. Here was John Humphrys at his best, never flinching from asking his boss those questions which I am sure he would rather not have been asked.  He could have let Mr Entwistle off the hook with questions such as, ‘And how did you feel when you saw the programme? …Oh, I see, you didn’t see it at the time. So how did you feel when you saw the replay?’

There was perhaps a moment at the start when Mr Entwistle could have set the tone of the interview. He said emphatically that there would be an enquiry – ‘I have commissioned a report…further action will follow.’ It sounded good and strong but Humphrys wasn’t going to follow that line, he had a path all of his own down which he was going to lead his boss. Essentially what Humphrys wants to know is what Entwistle was doing before and immediately  after the Newsnight programme. And what Humphrys finds out is a style of management which is passive and lazy (‘The film wasn’t drawn to my attention beforehand’) Humphrys persists, ‘But you must have known that something was coming up on Newsnight because it was being tweeted twelve hours before.’ Entwistle’s reply is revealing, ‘I didn’t see that tweet…it wasn’t brought to my attention.’ Humphrys cannot believe Entwistle’s lack of curiosity and his failure to keep his finger on the pulse. ‘Didn’t you read the Guardian the next morning,’ asks Humphrys. ‘No, I was giving a speech,’ is the answer. ‘Aren’t some things more important than others,’ persists Humphrys. ‘You have to prepare the speeches you make,’ whines Entwistle, in a feeble attempt to defend his position.

The interview ended one had the feeling that Mr Entwistle had no choice but to resign. A good talker, he may be, but his lack of judgment and action spoke louder than words. He had to go but why did the BBC then compound the problem by offering him a year’s salary and £877,000? Absolutely ridiculous. Has no-one at the top got an ounce of commonsense. Entwistle shouldn’t have accepted the offer and Patten whose judgment is as flawed as his Director General should follow him out of the BBC.

 

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One Comment
  1. supernova permalink

    Hi Jane, couldn’t agree more, when I heard the news of this my mouth must have dropped open in disbelief – then anger and frustration! Thanks for this great post. Supernova.

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