Monday, 5 October 2009

An apology is all you need

The BBC is "standing by" Anton Du Beke after calls for him to be sacked.

Like Carol Thatcher, Du Beke used an obvious racist term. Unlike Thatcher, Du Beke apologised. Sort of.

I must say immediately and categorically that I am not a racist and that I do not use racist language.

[attempted explanation of context]

There was no racist intent whatsoever but I accept that it is a term which causes offence and I regret my use of it, which was done without thought or consideration of how others would react.

I apologise unreservedly for any offence my actions might have caused.

Well, the first sentence gets off to a bad start. We can probably assume that the BBC wouldn't misquote its own staff, so it seems that he doesn't consider "Paki" to be racist language. That makes the rest of the apology seem rather insincere, and it ends with the typical apologies for offence that "might have" been caused, which doesn't help.

If you're getting in an apology in advance for something that hasn't yet received complaint, but for which you realise you probably shouldn't have said, then such hypothetical language is perhaps okay. If the complaints are already in, and they are, it smells of minimisation.

I said earlier that the I found the BBC didn't make me annoyed so much by its reporting as other media organisations when the facts themselves were bad enough. Between this, and the other recent mentions ... well, it's still true ... but it's more an indictment of the media in general than a compliment to the BBC.

"A Second Thought" thinks there may be some sexism involved in the different treatments of Thatcher and Du Beke, too. It's unlikely to be the last time that a BBC staff member can't keep away from the racist insults, so this should sadly be reasonably quick to test.