And if that's not a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario, I don't know what is. Broadcast it and you're bastards for doing so. Stop broadcasting it and you're bastards for not letting us hear what you're bastards for broadcasting.
A week after the tabloid outrage that kicked the whole thing off, two people have resigned, one has been suspended without pay for three months and it isn't enough. We need more coverage, even if it is just gloating. 'The BBC wakes up to decency' is the Mail's headline today. Continuing the gloating theme and perfectly exemplifying it is Richard Littlejohn, who manages to produce a column reveals exactly what the Mail's agenda is in the whole farce, while at the same time being so spectacularly wrong, so directly at odds with reality that it really does beggar belief.
'We're mad as hell and we DON'T have to take it any more!' is the headline, which could serve as the Daily Mail's mission statement if only it included the words 'we hate anything remotely different to us' at the beginning of the sentence. The premise of the whole article is summed up a couple of passages:
"If the Tories could but see it, there's a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity here. The BBC is an ideal example of a nationalised industry which has grown bloated and lost sight of its remit.That's the agenda nailed down. Use the incident to attack the BBC - okay, he neglects to mention that the BBC's commercial rivals have paid him quite a lot of money over the years - and he might do better himself financially if the BBC is scaled back - but there's what the Mail has been doing all along in a simple couple of sentences. (It's also worth pointing out that while employed by one of those rivals to present a talk show, which itself can only be described as cack, he managed to treat some guests so offensively that even right-winger Michael Winner was moved to call him an arsehole).
Here is the scope for Call Me Dave and Boy George to demonstrate exactly how they can cut taxes without cutting public services."
And now for the ridiculously wrong bit:BBC radio's controller has resigned. One performer has resigned and another has been suspended - all over an incident that nobody had heard about until the tabloids started a moral panic over the whole affair. It's not those people who 'control so much of our public life'. Want to hazard a guess at who this whole sorry nonsense exposes as controlling so much of our public life?
"We don't have to take it lying down. This has been a stunning victory for common decency over the self-appointed, self-obsessed, metropolitan narcissists who control so much of our public life."
Minister for Being a Massive Poisonous Halfwit, Phil Woolas provides a clue:
"If you ignore the Sun reader in this debate [immigration] you are not going to move it forward,"This is in defence of referring to the new immigration points system as 'Australian style', despite, er, not being very much like the Australian style. Sophie Barrett-Brown, chairman of the Immigration Law Practioners' Association explained:
'In fact, Australia's migration policy was "quite lenient" compared to the new UK regime, she added.'And, of course, let's not forget that Rebekah Wade and the Digger himself were present at the meetings that have got Osborne and Mandelson in so much trouble, although they were largely ignored in newspaper coverage of the affair. Which is not being talked about anymore now that some people made a prank call to an old man. Strange coincidence that.
Littlejohn's column gets extra points for contradicting what he's said earlier, in 'All we have to fear... is the fear of giving offence'. Of course, it was brown people we had to fear the fear of giving offence to in that column. Expecting the BBC to censor itself so as not to offend tabloid readers is totally different. For some reason.
If you want more evidence that the Mail's agenda here is to attack the BBC rather than display a genuine outpouring of heartfelt hurt over the broadcast, here it is. 'Even as Russell Brand row raged, BBC 'comedians' were insulting the Queen'.
Except they weren't. The comedian (singular) was doing that years ago - in an episode of Mock the Week that was repeated on Wednesday. I remember the gag because it cracked me up. A number of times, when the show was first broadcast and when it was repeated again and again without much fanfare until it could be used to twist the knife the papers have stuck into the BBC's belly.
Media Studies students should study this for years to come as an example of a Moral Panic - but quite a unique one. Rather than being a story that has been picked up relatively innocently and rolled along as the result of confirmation bias and so on, it is one that has been entirely and deliberately confected by newspapers in order to pillory a commercial rival, and influence the politicians responsible for the rival's funding.
But it's not the tabloids that hold power over our public life.