New York Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has questioned whether Mark Thompson is fit to lead the organisation. As the BBC is rocked by the Savile scandal, the role of its former Director General, Mark Thompson, is being drawn into question.
On Monday night, a BBC Panorama documentary, which was reviewed by Digital Journal, examined the decision of the BBC to not broadcast a Newsnight expose of Jimmy Savile. Whilst the documentary showed that the BBC's account was inaccurate, it was unable to identify the actual explanation.
Former BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, who is about to take up the post of Chief Executive at the New York Times, has denied any knowledge of the Newsnight investigation into the allegations against Jimmy Savile. However, as the Daily Telegraph points out, this has been contradicted by the journalist Caroline Hawley, who says she told Mark Thompson about the Newsnight investigation.
Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times public editor, wrote a blog post, expressing concern about Mr Thompson's suitability. Referring directly to the Newsnight investigation, she said:
How likely is it that he knew nothing? A director general of a giant media company is something like a newspaper’s publisher. Would a publisher be very likely to know if an investigation of one of its own people on sexual abuse charges had been killed?
According to Reuters, some analysts believe the New York Times would be well advised to at least delay the appointment of Mr Thompson given the uncertainty. Reuters quotes Doug Arthur, an analyst with Evercore Partners who follows the New York Times, as saying:
It seems to me he (Mark Thompson) will have to attend a hearing in the UK parliament. That is going to be a distraction. It's unfortunate. It's an unexpected complication.
Mark Thompson has informed the House of Commons Select Committee, which yesterday heard evidence from the current BBC Director General, George Entwistle, that he would be content to appear before the Committee, according to the Daily Mail. Such an appearance would be likely to be an uncomfortable experience for Mr Thompson, for, as the Guardian points out, he has made contradictory public statements on the Savile scandal. He has told the New York Times that he had no knowledge of the Newsnight investigation and he told The Times that he did have knowledge of it.
Mr Thompson told the Guardian there is no contradiction between the two positions.