The Grey Lady in the Glass House

It is a good divine that follows his own instructions. ~Shakespeare

On August 15, 2012, Grey Lady, announced the hiring of its new CEO, Mark Thompson, formerly Director General of the BBC.

Thompson started work at the NY Times on November 12,2012 and his hiring is causing pain and discomfort for the Grey Lady.

For 30 years, Mark Thompson served in various jobs at the BBC, and finally as its Chief since 2004. Mark Thompson is a curious choice as President of the NY Times, the American media’s self appointed arbiter of ethics and child protection.   It is looking ‘curiouser and curiouser’ that Thompson’s arrival brought plenty of baggage from across the pond, namely the ghost of Jimmy Savile, the BBC’s prominent TV celebrity.

From the moment of Savile’s death on October 29, 2011, his morbid secrets are being unearthed and the BBC is reeling with charges that its most famous and long time television and radio personality, Jimmy Savile, was a serial child rapist throughout his long career at the BBC.

Despite his popularity and renowned charity, Savile concealed his very dark and depraved conduct. Around the time of his death, BBC reporters were investigating charges that Savile molested underage girls for a BBC documentary.  However, in December, 2011, the expose was suddenly cancelled by a BBC editor before airing.   Thompson who headed the BBC from 2004-2012, was the chief company executive when the investigative program exposing Savile’s child predation was dropped and never aired. Thompson said that he was not involved  in killing the BBC “Newsnight” Savile investigation and claims he never knew about the substance of the allegations against Savile. However, several BBC executives have been forced out over the cancellation of the documentary with charges of coverup at the BBC.   When another media outlet aired its own documentary about Savile in October of 2012, his cover was blown as now some 450 victims have stepped forward alleging that Savile molested them when they were children, some even describing sexual abuse on BBC premises.

Critics charge that BBC covered up Savile’s alleged crimes which police say took place over six decades and were on an “unprecedented scale.” The chief of the Scotland Yard investigation said, Savile was “undoubtedly” one of the most prolific sex offenders in recent British history.

On October 12, 2012, Thompson claimed that “during my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations about Jimmy Savile.” Interestingly, Thompson’s career at the BBC coincided for  nearly 3 decades with Savile’s career.  Thompson was Director General during the last performance of Savile on the popular BBC program, Top of the Pops, in 2006.

Several British government inquiries are ongoing looking at the following questions:

Did the BBC ignore the rumors of Savile’s predatory behavior with underage girls because he was a star and generated enormous revenue?

Were young children sacrificed on the altar of fame by the BBC?

Was the BBC documentary cancelled because executives were fearful of opening up a pandora’s box of children victimized by Savile?

These questions beg another: Why would the NY Times hire the head of a media empire whose staff buried an expose about one of the most prominent media personalities who was a serial child predator?

Surely, the NY Times learned the many lessons it espoused in its voluminous coverage of the Catholic clergy abuse scandal. Coverups often trump the actual crime.

Recently, the Times’ holier-than-thou drumbeat continued as Frank Bruni, NY Times, Op-Ed columnist penned, “Suffer the Children” published on Sept. 10, 2012, three weeks after the NY Times announcement that Thompson has been appointed its president and CEO. In this NY Times Op-ed Bruni moralizes about the child abuse scandals at the Catholic Church, Penn State and the Boy Scouts:

Just how flagrant does a pedophile need to be before the people around him contact the police?

Now, Mr. Bruni, that is a great question for Mr. Thompson.

Bruni’s editorial lectures institutions, like the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, and Penn State….

“One is that institutions have a potent impulse to avoid public scandal, and do an execrable job of policing themselves. To protect their reputations or simply to avoid conflict, they minimize even the most destructive behavior. They convince themselves that they can handle it on their own. And they persuade themselves that their mission, be it the inculcation of religious faith or the scoring of touchdowns, trumps the law’s mandates.”

Ah, yes, Mr. Bruni, do those lofty standards apply to the NY Times and to the BBC, Mr. Thompson’s former employer?

Mr. Bruni continues with his sage advice to the minions…

“Another is that for all the lip service that we pay to the preciousness of children and the importance of their futures, they remain the most voiceless members of our society.”

Ah, yes, lip service to the preciousness of children, does that apply to British victims of a media behemoth, the BBC?

Mr. Bruni continues to pontificate…

“Many don’t know or understand what their rights are; many don’t have the maturity or mettle to exercise them. They depend on the vigilance and good faith of adults, which is to say they depend, all too often, on a fiction.”

Ah, yes, vigilance and good faith of adults are critical for those who run companies that make millions from personalities who secretly prey on children, like perhaps the BBC.

“And a third is that we’re as likely to turn away from sexual pathology as confront it. It confounds and discomfits us. It suggests the tenacity of willful ignorance and deliberate evasion, even when the price is nothing less than the ravaged psyches of vulnerable children.”

Well, let’s hope that the NY Times has no employees with a sexual pathology that sexually preys on children.  Was your new boss willfully ignorant or deliberately evasive when it came to Jimmy Savile at the BBC? Will he evade allegations of prominent personalities at the NY Times?

Apparently, this fog of scandal was known to the Board of Directors of the NY Times during the negotiations with Thompson. They were assured by Mr. Thompson that he was totally unaware of Jimmy Savile’s deviate and criminal predilections.

With the media pressure building, this week Arthur Sulzberger, Chairman of the NY Times Board of Directors told Bloomberg News that Chief Executive Mark Thompson’s connection to the BBC’s Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal “hasn’t made things easy.”

Welcome, Mr. Sulzberger, to the challenging world of ethics and the media scrutiny of institutions that compromise child protection.  You should know better.

There sits the Grey Lady in her lofty glass tower, expounding and dictating ethical standards for us all.

There is an old saying, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

© Elizabeth Yore-2012 All Rights Reserved.

Elizabeth Yore is the former Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc.where she served as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate. She was also the former General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children., twitter: @elizabethyore



  • Slander James

    Good grief. I’m embarrassed by this website that uses the Catholic name. Where do they get these writers?



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