In there amidst the dismay and shock at what Jimmy Savile appears to have got away with for so long are to be found the usual calmingly apologetic tropes. Here's Mark Damazer:
Nobody at the top now was in any position of authority when [Savile] was chomping his cigars and Fixing It for the nation, but the public will give the BBC (and maybe the NHS) low marks for not having found a way to confront him at the time.
Why 'but'? Are we supposed to think that because different personnel now occupy positions of authority, the corporate responsibility is somehow lessened should it turn out to be true that Savile, and possibly others, sexually abused children on BBC premises? That's a variant of the claim that there can be no meaningful apology in cases where those giving the apology are not themselves personally at fault. There can be; organizations are also answerable for what they do, for what they allow or what they turn a blind eye to. If you read the rest of Damazer's column, you will see that everyone now concerned at the Beeb is basically a jolly good person - as if the primary issue were how the BBC has been dealing with the Savile case just lately, rather than how it failed to deal with it when it should have.
Then there's this from a Guardian leader:
The failure of health services and the broadcasters to protect the people in their charge was lamentable. But these failures should not be used as an excuse to bash the BBC or the NHS. Plenty of others lauded Savile in his lifetime before loathing him as soon as the alleged truth came out.
The key words in this case are 'excuse' and 'bash'. What if we say, instead, 'reason' and 'criticize'? If bashing the BBC just means dishing out general hostility, then indeed no one should be bashing it. On the other hand, if the BBC did fail to protect children in its charge from the sexual attentions of celebrity broadcasters, that is a public disgrace, for which the Corporation is responsible and should have to answer in one way or another. Nor is the argument that 'plenty of others' were complicitly looking on or looking away the least bit impressive. Those who did so deserve no admiration, to be sure. But plenty of others, too, were not complicit and not part of any culture according to which it is OK to sexually molest children. This 'different-culture-back-then' theme is hogwash. Not that there wasn't a different culture in many respects and so far as male attitudes to women were concerned, and the unpleasant forms of conduct that went with that. Yet with large numbers of people, it was not the case, even back then in the dark old days, that they - we - would have complacently shrugged off information that Savile or others like him might be abusing young people, whether at the BBC or in hospitals and other institutions that were supposedly in loco parentis. Hell, as long ago as 1965 there were people who would have condemned the sexual exploitation of children.
We should avoid oversimplifying; but we should also not wantonly malign our own past. It is not generally the case that everyone is to blame for everything, and neither is it the case in this particular case. If this was the 'culture at the BBC' (see entry at 10.51 BST here), it certainly wasn't the whole culture of the country.