The BBC scandal is officially in the building at the New York Times. The former director-general of the British broadcaster showed up for his first day of work at the Grey Lady this morning, and more than the paper’s own reporters were waiting to greet him. “Like many people, I’m very saddened by recent events at the BBC, but I believe the BBC is the world’s greatest broadcaster,” Thompson told the camped out cameras on his way in the door, referring to the recently dredged up pedophilia scandal at his old company. “I’ve got no doubt that it will once again regain the public’s trust both in the U.K. and around the world.”
“No, I believe that it will not in any way affect my new job, which I am starting right now, as chief executive of the New York Times Company,” he added diplomatically.
His new employees are not so sure. Thompson continues to face questions about whether or not he knew about the scrapped investigation into BBC host Jimmy Savile’s alleged sexual abuse, which coupled with a separate investigation also involving accusations of pedophilia, has already claimed three executives at the broadcaster. (Two people in the BBC news department “stepped aside” just this morning, the Times itself reported in an uncomfortable bit of timing.)
“How do you not know?” one Times editor asked New York’s Joe Hagan. “And is that someone you want? I mean, I don’t know if he was a bold choice [for CEO], but he’s a problematic choice. People are waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. maintains that he’s unconcerned. “Mark will lead us as we continue our digital transformation, bolster our international growth, drive our productivity and introduce new technologies that will help us become better storytellers and enrich the experience for our readers and viewers,” he told the staff in a memo today. As Hagan reported, “Sulzberger has done no further vetting beyond asking Thompson for his version of events and taking him at his word.”