Fans of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy might remember the Dentrassi. These aliens were “the best cooks in the Western Galaxy”. They provided the in-flight catering on the Vogon Destructor Fleet.
When Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent escape the destruction of earth by hitching a lift on a Vogon ship, they get the chance to sample some of the Dentrassi cooking on board. After a huge build up by Ford about how wonderful it will be, Arthur bites into the Hagra Biscuit, and declares it revolting.
Ford, disbelieving, bites into his, and on finding how horrible it tastes, he declares:-
“These guys must really hate the Vogons.”
For some reason that phrase comes to mind whenever I have the good fortune to read something in the Daily Mail which refers to the BBC. The Daily Mail must really hate the BBC, and seems to go out of its way to find an angle in as many stories as possible to the detriment of Auntie Beeb.
Colin Murray, the Northern Irish radio and TV presenter, is not everyone’s cup of tea. I think that his “Fighting Talk” programme on Radio 5 has been brilliant, and I rarely saw him on Match of the Day 2, but I know there are a lot of listeners and viewers who disliked his presenting style.
Recently, after the BBC had to apologise for a tasteless section referring to Clare Balding on one episode of “Fighting Talk” (although forming part, as it did, of the “Defend the Indefensible” round might have given a clue that it was not seriously intended), Colin Murray announced he was leaving the BBC to join TalkSport, although he would still do some work for the Beeb as a freelance.
The BBC has already been in the sights of the media and of the Conservative Culture Secretary for the allegedly sexist comments by John Inverdale about the Ladies Champion at Wimbledon.
So, imagine the delight of the Daily Mail when it turned out that Colin Murray had allegedly said, when acting as MC at the Anniversary Games athletics at the weekend, that the “ultimate athlete” would possess the following attributes:-
‘The stamina of Mo (Farah), the speed of (Usain) Bolt, the leap of (Greg) Rutherford and the bottom of Jess Ennis’.
Apparently the 80,000 crowd was shocked to the core by Murray’s comment.
He later tweeted to point out that he had described Jessica Ennis as the “greatest all-round athlete in the world”.
The Mail stated that the Culture Secretary was “hopping-mad about the incident”.
It then quoted a “source close to the Culture Secretary” as saying:-
“Tony Hall (BBC Director-General) claimed the Inverdale incident was a one-off and had been dealt with but we have seen other occurrences including this one at the Anniversary Games, which clearly underlines the need for positive action on this issue”.
It then quoted an official spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport:-
“Maria Miller has been clear she wants to see more media coverage of top women’s sport, more women on sports boards and more women participating at the grassroots. Recent sexist comments from high-profile commentators focusing on sportswomen’s appearances rather than their sporting prowess are unacceptable and show that there is still much work to be done.’
The Mail heads its piece with the following:-
The Government has again attacked the BBC for sexist sports coverage after presenter Colin Murray said Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill had the ultimate bottom.
A capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium were left shocked by Murray’s comments just weeks after John Inverdale said Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli ‘was never going to be a looker’.
After Inverdale’s gaffe Culture Secretary Maria Miller delivered an extraordinary attack on the BBC in a letter to Director General Tony Hall, and now looks set to write to him again.
Why do I find this piece worth your attention?
First of all, in neither quote, either from the “source” or the spokesperson, do we find any mention of the Culture Secretary attacking the BBC. Nor is there any suggestion that she will be writing again to the Director-General.
Secondly, as the piece does report, but without drawing attention to it, Mr Murray’s remarks were not broadcast, and were only heard by the live audience at the stadium.
Thirdly, Mr Murray was not there as a broadcaster or as an employee of the BBC. He is no longer a BBC employee at all.
So we have a comment which, Mr Murray would argue, has been taken out of context (and in which the 80,000 shocked members of the audience are represented by four tweets mentioned in the piece).
It was not made on air, nor even as part of any broadcast by the BBC.
Mr Murray was not at the Olympic Stadium as a BBC employee and was not working there for the BBC.
Therefore, quite clearly, the Mail was right to blame … the BBC!
“Those guys must really hate the BBC”, as Ford Prefect might say.
And, to cap it all, guess how the Mail illustrated the story?
So just in case we wondered what all the fuss was about …
And as for a media organisation which focuses on the appearance of women (not just sportswomen) rather than their achievements, I wonder if Martin Robinson, who wrote the Mail piece, has ever looked at the Mail Online and especially the right hand column on the home page? Try finding a picture there which is NOT of a woman scantily-clad?
Hypocrisy is alive and well and living in the Mail Online!
Maybe the Culture Secretary will pen a letter to the Mail’s editor
Wait a minute – what party has the Mail’s backing?
No, there is no chance of such a letter, is there?
Posted by Paul McConville