Jeremy Paxman’s lack of knowledge about departments central to the BBC’s editorial output has been revealed in the transcript of his interview as part of the Pollard review.
Paxman, infamous for his no-nonsense attitude during interviews, even referred to other senior heads of department as ‘bloody people.’
Despite being one of the biggest editorial names in the corporation Paxman said he didn’t know anything about the work of the BBC’s editorial policy department.
When asked about its role he said: “I don’t know what they do. I mean, they talk to each other, I suppose, as all these bloody people do. I wish I had an idea! I assume he makes – it makes editorial policy.”
He added: “I’don’t know whether you are going to have David Jordan (who runs the department) in front of you, but you could ask him -- it would be rather interesting to ask him what his job is. I expect you would get rather a long answer.”
Full details of Paxman’s interview have been revealed after the BBC published documents from the Pollard inquiry. All the transcripts can be viewed here.
Nick Pollard - a former Sky News executive - was appointed to head the review late last year to look into whether management failings were behind the decision to cancel a six-week investigation into abuse claims against Jimmy Savile in December 2011, weeks before a Christmas tribute was broadcast.
The scandal last year claimed the scalp of George Entwistle little over 50 days into the job.
A separate Newsnight investigation last summer led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly accused of child abuse.
Despite "ranting" though 75 pages of evidence, Paxman raises hugely damning points about the direction of the BBC and its place in media.
"It will be, you know, ages before Newsnight gets another editor. I find it slightly hard to imagine that there is going to be a much more savvy public relations operation at the end of it. I hope I am wrong. I believe – and it is a wonderful, wonderful organisation if you treat it as a publisher. Much of the rest of it, I can – I can take of leave.
He adds: "I think there is one other thing here. It may be to do with how- the question – the really important questions here is: what was the BBC doing?
"What was the BBC doing promoting this absurd figure, this absurd and malign figure? And I think that has to do with the fact of the BBC having been aloof from popular culture for so long.
"Suddenly pirate radio comes along and all these people in metaphorical cardigans suddenly have to deal with an influx - once pirate radio, once pop radio is legalised, they suddenly have to deal with an influx of people from a very, very different culture and they never got control of them and I'm not sure even now they have."
Paxman ends the interview saying: "Sorry for ranting. I will get on."
Large sections of the 3,000 pages of transcripts appear to have been blacked out for legal reasons. The Guardian newspaper is live blogging new details as it wades through the documents. The BBC says roughly 3% had been redacted.
But, the report does describe how detailed accusations about Savile's sex crimes were censored after viewers tried to post them on a BBC tribute web page.
The comments, which included one person who wrote "One of my best friends in 1972 was molested by this creep Savile. He was never the same again. Killed himself in 1985. How's About That Then?", were stopped from being published by a team of moderators employed by the corporation.
A transcript of an interview between Mr Pollard and Mr Entwistle refers to examples of the comments, including one person who wrote: "He was a paedophile. You may not like the truth but he was. It will all tumble out now."
Another wrote: "Sorry to rain on the parade of all the well-wishers, but he was infamous in Scarborough. I would not have been letting my son sit on his knee."
During his interview, Mr Entwistle said he thought moderators may have been affected by "anxiety" after details of a hoax, which claimed Savile had been challenged about his crimes on an episode of Have I Got News For You, were published online.
In one email headed "Jimmy Savile - paedophile", producer Meirion Jones, who was involved in establishing the axed Newsnight report, flagged up the idea of an investigation just hours after the presenter's death was announced.
He proposed the suggestion, possibly for Panorama, because he said some of the girls who had been molested by Savile were ready to talk about their experiences.
He wrote: "Some of the girls are now prepared to talk about this which might make a core to a film about what Jimmy Savile really got up to - and of course he's dead so he can't sue."
BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: "These documents paint a very unhappy picture, but the BBC needs to be open - more open than others would be - in confronting the facts that lie behind Nick Pollard's report.
"A limited amount of text has been blacked out for legal reasons, but no-one could say that the effect has been to sanitise this material, which again puts a spotlight on some of our failings.
"We need to acknowledge these shortcomings and learn from them."
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