UK

BBC's Attack On Mail Online Prompts Rewriting Of 'Capitalising On Misery' Article

'Crass beyond belief...'

25/08/2017 09:05 BST

The Mail Online has rewritten a story accusing the BBC of “capitalising on misery” after the broadcaster launched a rare and scathing attack in its own defence.

The website alleged three planned documentaries on Grenfell Tower, Stephen Lawrence and Stephen Port had drawn wide criticism, based mainly on a few Facebook comments.

The article read:

  • People took to Facebook to attack BBC for rush of programmes on recent crime
  • About the Stephen Port drama, one user wrote, ‘stop making evil people famous’

The BBC Press Office, in a rare move, released a statement addressing the article.

The statement reads:

The killing of Stephen Lawrence and the tragedy of Grenfell are among the most important social stories of our times and to run a story suggesting that documentaries along with a drama on the Stephen Port killings are ‘capitalising on misery’ based on three Facebook posts is crass beyond belief.

The original Mail Online article now appears to have been heavily edited - although its URL still reads “BBC-accused-capitalised-misery-documentaries”, it now centres on comments made by Piers Wenger, the controller of BBC drama commissioning.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, he said: “I think there is an awful lot of very dark drama across all channels and I would love to see some more inspiring stories.

“So I would love a Sunday night show which examines heroism and what it means to be a hero....it just feel really exciting to be in a world that isn’t about dead bodies.”

Although the BBC tends to maintain a dignified silence in response to most criticism, the Twitter account of its press office has been a bit more vocal lately.

In June it hit back at the Daily Mail in a spectacular rant after a story appeared listing the corporation’s finances.

The BBC’s press team publicly lambasted the newspaper for missing “crucial facts” in its story and adds “never let that get in the way of a good headline”.

The clarifications continued:

And just in case there was any doubt:

The MailOnline has been contacted for comment.