Well, the BBC and the government are in some huge fight, and they’ve decided they want to play it out on-air. Oh, lucky, lucky us. Andrew Marr has summarised the row on the BBC’s website if you’ve managed to miss it all.
The thing that strikes me, though, is the arrogance of both sides. The government is often criticised for its arrogance and Alistair Campbell can be seen as epitomising that arrogance. Pit that against the BBC, an organisation that exudes arrogance, and you’ve got a sticky situation. I believe that both sides honestly believe they are in the right, and honestly holds the other side in disdain. Neither side is used to losing, or ever really thinks they should apologise: the government because it has the interests of the country at heart; and the BBC because it has the highest editorial standards and believes in the integrity of its journalists.
As for an outcome, well it’s hard to tell. My instinct is to say the thing will fizzle out, but that’s not what the BBC or the government are saying. Talk there is of resignation and humiliating apology. If that happens and, to a certain extent, even if it doesn’t, the dynamic between government and the media could shift and that will be an interesting thing to watch.