The New York Times ran two stories on the same page of Thursday's International section that touched on long-running sex-and-media scandals. But there's one the paper is ignoring that hits very close to home. The tenure of New York Times Company's new chief executive Mark Thompson, formerly director-general of the BBC, has been clouded by questions over exactly what he knew about the BBC squelching an investigation by its news division into allegations of rampant child-sex abuse by eccentric BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile.
News of Pope Benedict XVI sending his first message on Twitter was fodder for a slightly hostile story Thursday from Rachel Donadio about the "struggling...confused" Pope working an iPad. As Rome bureau chief, Donadio contributed many of the paper's stories in 2010 aggressively linking the Pope to past instances of child molestation coverup by the Church in Munich and Wisconsin.
Donadio couldn't avoid mentioning the Church sexual abuse scandal: "Others used Twitter to send messages to the pope criticizing the Catholic Church for the sexual abuse scandal and the church’s ban on condom use."
The other scandal story involved the resignation by the editor of the Times of London, part of the stable of papers run by New York Times arch-enemy Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp., a direct Times competitor in New York in the form of the Wall Street Journal and New York Post. Reporter Amy Chozick made ample reference to the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed Murdoch's empire and made frequent front-page appearances in the Times this summer.
But coverage of another sex-and-media related scandal, rather closer to home, has been absent from the Times since November 27: The simmering controversy over the New York Times Company's new chief executive Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC until this year. An inquiry into how BBC executives, including Thompson, handled the botched investigation into entertainer Jimmy Savile, accused of dozens of instances of child sexual abuse, is expected to be issued early next week.
Media Research Center president Brent Bozell issued a letter demanding a similar investigation by the New York Times itself:
The shocking developments in the Jimmy Savile child sex abuse scandal at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) raise disturbing questions about Mark Thompson, the former BBC director general who was named the new president and CEO of The New York Times Company in August. Given what has come to light thus far, Thompson is at the very least "guilty of gross professional incompetence" and at worst involved in "an indefensible cover-up," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell charged in letters sent yesterday to New York Times publisher Jill Abramson executive editor Jill Abramson and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
"If you did conduct a background investigation during the hiring process, what were your findings? If you knew about Mr. Savile’s alleged crimes while Mr. Thompson was director general, why did you decide to go ahead and hire him anyway?" Bozell inquired in the letters, which he is making public today, "because the public deserves to know the truth." "I want to give you the benefit of the doubt in this matter, and therefore the opportunity to respond," the Media Research Center founder added, concluding, "Your response will be reproduced in full."