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In Defence of Jeremy Clarkson

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JEREMY CLARKSON
PA

Out of context, what Jeremy Clarkson said on The One Show on Wednesday was disgusting and wrong. Granted- even in context, the entertainer's choice of vocabulary didn't make the joke particularly entertaining. However, does anyone else feel like yet another anti-BBC bandwagon has hit the road?

The gag was simple. Clarkson initiated it by complementing the strikers and saying of Wednesday's actions: "They've been fantastic. Absolute fantastic. We've had airports...people streaming through with no problems at all. It's also like being back in the seventies ...feels like home, somehow!".

However, he then pointed out that "we have to balance it though, because this is the BBC", going on to say that "frankly, I think they should all be shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families". The blatant joke was that the BBC has to display both sides of an argument, however extreme, to maintain its impartial reputation.

Nevertheless, the criticisms began to roll in the next morning. No doubt you're wondering which reliable and respected newspaper was first to splash its front page with this supposedly awful controversy? The Daily Star. Without being too cynical, it's pretty easy to make the link between the Star and Channel 5- a direct rival to BBC television. Both are owned by Richard Desmond, who is known to have, in the past, strong controls over his newspapers' agendas. Naturally, not long after the Desmond press had started the ball rolling, a power-assisting fan was put behind it by the Daily Mail and other tabloids.

Less than a week ago, the BBC was blamed for the lack of sportswomen that made the shortlist for its annual Sports Personality of the Year award. On the surface, this denunciation sounds reasonably justified. However, what the majority of reports about the nominations failed to mention was the way they are complied. The BBC does not create the shortlist; hundreds of sports journalists from dozens of media organisations do. The Beeb was subjected to the harshest of criticisms from its rivals, for the precise reason that they are its rivals. Call it jealousy, call it smear, or call it a plain obsession, but the constant barrage of abuse that the BBC is subjected to is categorically wrong.

This time, the unions jumped at the chance to enhance the story with tales of how disgusted they were. Why? Because otherwise, they would have left the news bulletins and been long forgotten by Thursday evening. I'm sorry, but the outcries of Ed Miliband and the union leaders against Jeremy Clarkson on Thursday were purely for publicity. I fully accept the unions need to fight for their cause right now, and equally that Clarkson is a very well paid celebrity. However, the way they collectively jumped on a single person to gain a few column inches in the Friday press was plain wrong.

Jeremy Clarkson is one of the BBC's most prominent and, admittedly, highest-paid presenters. The One Show is one of the network's most popular programmes, which links it to Clarkson's hit series, Top Gear. Its rivals jumped at the opportunity to denounce the two simultaneously in the same report. I'm pretty sure "two birds with one stone" is the phrase. This whole affair is aimed to aggressively attack the BBC and feed the desperate tabloids with material. Yet again, it seems like the real scandal is about the way scandals are created in this country's press.

If you don't believe my quotes or you feel I've misrepresented Jeremy Clarkson's comments, I'd urge you to watch the clipping from "The One Show" in question here.