It's 5-0 to Gary Lineker as BBC capitulates over rules for presenters

Lineker was suspended - and then unsuspended - over a tweet comparing the government's language to that used by Nazis

September 28, 2023 14:55

Well, at least we know for certain who matters at the BBC now. The monkey really does run the show, while the organ grinder’s only purpose is to stuff it with money. It’s Gary Lineker who is in charge, with director general Tim Davie there to provide a platform for him.

The BBC has published the results of the “review” of its social media guidelines, a review begun in the wake of Lineker’s suspension, and then almost immediate unsuspension, after he posted a tweet attacking the Illegal Migration Bill as “an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s…”.

The review’s recommendations are entirely predictable. The BBC’s capitulation to Lineker in March – in the end, it didn’t even give the Match of the Day presenter a slapped wrist, and he was back in the studio the following week as if nothing had happened – showed then where the power really lies. The director general might have huffed and puffed about impartiality and BBC standards, but when push came to shove it was Lineker who called the shots.

Now the review has been published and its recommendations formalise that. They say, in effect, that BBC broadcasters can say whatever they want so long as they don’t actually endorse a party. 5-0 to Gary Lineker.

As I say: entirely predictable. The BBC ignored its own rules in March over a tweet comparing the government to the Nazis because it didn’t want to lose Lineker. The idea that a subsequent review of the rules would actually tighten them was always away with the fairies.

The director general’s only role, it seems, is to make sure that Gary Lineker’s pockets are stuffed with money - £1.36 million, to be precise, every year.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the BBC’s top brass that one of the reasons so many of its programmes are now watched or listened to by one man and his dog is that audiences are fed up with being lectured to by the BBC – and those like Lineker who are so closely associated with it – about what we should think.

If the March episode had been a one-off it might have been forgivable, however historically illiterate his Nazi comparison was. However Lineker has form for posting tweets based only on his ignorance.

In December, he tweeted about the death in Nablus of Ahmed Daraghmeh, who was killed in a clash with Israeli soldiers. “How awful”, he wrote, and he retweeted a post that accused Israeli forces of taking Daragmeh’s life “treacherously". Lineker presumably – one hopes – had no idea that Daraghmeh had died during an attack on Jews who had been visiting the reputed site of Joseph’s tomb, and had been mourned by terrorist group Hamas as a mujahid – a fighter or warrior. Lineker didn’t have a clue what he was tweeting to his 8.8 million followers about, but that didn’t stop him.

It was always a vain hope that the BBC might save the likes of Lineker from themselves by stopping them from exposing their own idiocy on social media. The BBC isn’t so much weak in the face of ‘the talent’ – as we have seen with its fawning over Russell Brand back in the day – as craven. Tweet away, Gary. No one is going to stop you now.

September 28, 2023 14:55

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