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Could the Director General of the BBC Lose His Job Over Jimmy Savile?

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One of the best places for taking the pulse of Fleet Street, now that the famed wine bar El Vino's is no longer the centre of that inky universe, is the Sky News Channel green room. On any week day evening just before its thrice-nightly newspaper review slot, you will find three gobby would-be opinion formers chewing over the contents of the next day's newspapers.

It is an enjoyable gig marred only slightly, for me, by the small torrent of tweets that inevitably follow, along the lines of "God, you're a fat/stupid, right wing/left wing bastard".

This week's green room gathering saw me in the slightly scary but entertaining company of Sun columnist Jane Moore and former News of the World writer Carole Malone, now with the People. We kicked off our chinwag with - what else - Jimmy Savile.

Like everyone else in the media, I have a theory where it's heading. I ran it past Jane and Carole. Here goes.

The BBC enquiries will conclude there wasn't a BBC cover up over the Newsnight report-that-never-was. But they could well, implicitly or explicitly, criticise the show's editor Peter Rippon for his editorial judgement. He should have parked the report, not binned it, and then shown it after the BBC's trilogy of hagiographies on Savile had gone out. In other words, it was a (ahem) cock up, not conspiracy.

The response to this thesis was surprising and instructive. Actually, said the hackettes, it's George Entwistle, the DG, who should go, because of his failure to act decisively in his previous job as head of BBC Vision. Once he was told of the existence of the Newsnight report, they said, he should not have sat there doing nothing. He should have asked questions, like "What's in the report, exactly?" In fact his job - in which he was responsible for all of the BBC's TV output - demanded he ask these questions.

And then he should have thought ahead. As in "Hmm... if what Newsnight say is true - and it seems to be - then we must ditch the hagiographies. We could look stupid if we don't".

Had he done this, they said, the BBC would not be in the mess it is now. However on this crucial, defining occasion, his antennae failed to work properly. He displayed, in other words, "a curious lack of curiosity". Which, you may recall, was the damming criticism his predecessor as Head of BBC Vision Jana Bennet attracted over her failures to act decisively in the Queengate scandal.

Jane and Carole also made me aware of something else - the animus felt by the tabloids in general, and News International in particular, at the (as they saw it) gleeful, almost obsessive way the BBC covered the phone hacking scandal and the Leveson inquiry. The implication - and other News International hacks have told me this - is that now the BBC has a moral crisis of its own, it's pay back time.

My opinion, for what it is worth, is that Entwistle won't have to go. It would be seen as unfair for him to leave his new job because of what he did in his old one, especially as no one else thought it might be a good idea to tell him the details of the Newsnight report.

Indeed I think the BBC, now it has got its PR act together - albeit a week too late - is performing rather well (declaration of interest: I work for them). I thought Entwistle's decent-but-uninspiring suburban solicitor demeanour came in useful when it was time for hand-wringing and apologies. Indeed compared to the Royal Flush of Great British Institutions Savile hoodwinked - the Catholic church, the monarchy, the police, Fleet Street, the NHS - the BBC 's response has been the best. But then no one does self-flagellation like the Beeb.

Whatever the Savile inquiry concludes, let us hope it is less expensive and time consuming than its near namesake, the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday, which cost £195 million and took 12 years.

One consequence, however, seems a raging certainty, judging by the BBC's reaction to past crises. As a friend in a senior editorial position there told me: "I've no idea how it will end. But one thing's for sure. We will all end up being sent on a course."

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