Oh, that's not what McGovern meant? Here's what he actually said, in an interview with Simon Mayo:
I love the BBC as an institution and as an organisation and you do see lots of black faces in the BBC. But you see them in the canteen. You do not see them in positions of power. It would appear to me that one of the most racist institutions in England is in fact the BBC.Now, unlike McGovern, I have not been, nor am I ever likely to be, invited within the hallowed portals of Broadcasting House, or indeed within those of the BBC's other place at Shepherd's Bush. I can claim no knowledge of the ethnic make-up of al-Beeb's canteen staff. However, does anyone in their right mind really believe that the BBC discriminates, deliberately or subconsciously, against non-whites?
Senior Beeboid, and fully paid-up member of the liberal-left, Andrew Marr, certainly doesn't think so. According to him, ethnic minorities, along with young people and homosexuals, are heavily over-represented among the employees of al-Beeb. And I don't think that he was referring to the canteen staff. Personally, it seems to me that BBC news reporters are disproportionately non-white; they certainly are on BBC London, where the two main presenters are Riz Lateef and Asad Ahmed (both Pakistani), with Kurt Barling (black) occasionally filling in. Really, I think that BBC London could do with recruiting a few more white presenters, in the interests of 'diversity'!
Does picking out a few non-white TV presenters really prove very much, in itself, about the BBC's attitude, positive or negative, towards minority groups? No. But it is no less probative of anything than Jimmy McGovern's accusations. After all, he produced no statistics to back up his claims: they were simply assertions, based, at best, on anecdotal evidence.
Perhaps the most contemptible thing in this whole story, is the BBC's response to McGovern's claims. In a statement read out by Simon Mayo, the corporation said:
We're actively seeking and nurturing ethnic talents both on and off air. This has been coming through in our output with a range of presenters and reporters across our peak time programmes...it is something we are always looking to improve on.So, the BBC is expressly seeking "ethnic talents", is it? Rather than just talent. So, its response to an unfounded accusation of racism against non-whites is to say that it actually discriminates in their favour? In any sane society this would be seen as being just as bad. Sadly, we live in a society in which discriminating against white people is seen as a thing good in itself by the political and media elite, of which al-Beeb is at the very centre.
If al-Beeb wishes to deal with a very real and serious form of discrimination taking place within the corporation, it could perhaps attempt to deal with what Andrew Marr terms the "cultural liberal bias" that dominates its news reporting, and which has been heavily documented in blogs, newspapers, independent reports, and books. But I wouldn't advise anyone to hold their breath waiting: attempting to achieve the impartiality required of it by its charter will earn al-Beeb far fewer liberal brownie points than it can get by self-flagellating fawning over designated victim groups.