No Moral Equivalence

I was asked an interesting question today ‘whether the BBC had any right to investigate others’, after the appalling management failings unveiled in Dame Janet Smith’s Savile Report. My answer was an unequivocal yes they can, they should, and they will.
It may be tempting to say ‘put your own house in order before you criticise ours’ and indeed there is a biblical precedent (Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’ John 8.7), however the BBC and some other media organisations a) have a public interest obligation to expose crime, significant incompetence etc and b) BBC programmes are not subject to some fallacious notion of ‘collective guilt’.
I would counsel very strongly against exercising or deploying ‘moral equivalence’ arguments as a media relations tactic, any more than one might have used it against certain newspapers after the News of the Screws phone hacking was exposed.



About JS

John Stonborough FCIPR specialises in media relations, providing an authoritative and discreet advocacy to corporate and private clients world-wide. He specialises in handling the hostile media and media regulation. He is known for observing "An interview is no time for an original thought." He is the great-nephew of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. His working career began as a London policeman and then as a reporter for the Daily Mail, BBC Radio 4, Thames Television and Channel 4 TV. From 2001 to 2004 he was The Media Advisor to the House of Commons Commission. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. He is married and lives in London, England.
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