Asylum: You The Judge
Young, Posh and Loaded
Emails You Wish You Hadn't Sent
Sindie TV critic in "crap journalist" furore! Courtauld accused in making-it-all-up shame! Finding yourself at the wrong end of a media maelstrom must be no fun. But what faced BBC News correspondents this week was a genuine two pipe problem: reporting for the bulletins - about themselves.
After the suicide of David Kelly, BBC News was scrutinised as never before: "Tonight the BBC is under attack over the accuracy of its journalism," intoned Fiona Bruce in the intro to the 10 o'clock news. Gone was any hint that this was an enjoyable game of cat and mouse: the "war" had now drawn real blood. No wonder they were treading carefully: an assignment like this could not only be deemed tasteless - it might be a career-ending experience. Spend too long on the story and you're accused of navel-gazing. Too short, and they'll get you for cover-up. In general, they made a pretty decent fist of it. Not least because the best reporters were deployed for the occasion: the (usually vastly underused) Niall Dickson, media correspondent Nick Higham and, of course, the ever-reliable Andrew Marr. Certainly the BBC made a better job than the rubbing-hands- with-glee lot on Sky News.
Arguably the worst moments for the corporation came on Sunday, when News head Richard Sambrook had to 'fess up that Kelly had been Andrew Gilligan's source all along. And he'd been Newsnight reporter Susan Watts' source. And the 10 o'clock man Gavin Hewitt's too. Unbeknownst to each other, it looked like all the Beeb's reporters had been plying this poor man with hotel coffee to claim an identical "senior, credible source". Fiona Bruce presented the late bulletin in a sober sailor-suit. A film from Nick Higham set the scene, and was followed by a two-way interview with a black-suited Marr. "I don't think that when this inquiry finally reports, probably in September, anybody - BBC, journalists, or the government or spin doctors - are going to walk away from this claiming a great political victory." Despite Marr's mildly paranoid protestation that it was mostly "enemies of the BBC" who were kicking up the fuss, the reverse looked true: only the Daily Mail (normally the corporation's fiercest critic) and the fellow right-wing Spectator crowd chose to defend the BBC's journalism. With friends like these...
By Monday, much of the pressure had moved from the BBC and onto Geoff Hoon, a far easier prospect for the Beeb. After empty- chairing both houses with the well-worn "we invited both the BBC and the Ministry of Defence to take part in tonight's programme. Both declined," Newsnight's Gavin Esler chaired a low-level ding-dong between Labour never-was Chris Bryant and Tory never-will-be Oliver Letwin. It produced a bit of heat, but no light.
Lord Hutton is now getting on with his work, and the story is - for the moment at least - dropping down the news running order. But it'll be back - by which time the overworked Andrew Marr will have moved from the 10 to the six o'clock. …