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NY TIMES OMBUDSMAN CALLS FOR PROBE OF INCOMING CEO

October 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Mark Thompson

The welcome mat is being pulled out from under Mark Thompson, the incoming chief executive of the New York Times, by Margaret Sullivan, the newspaper’s ombudsman. In a post on the newspaper’s blog on Tuesday, Sullivan called on the Times‘s journalists to investigate Thompson’s knowledge of the late host Jimmy Savile’s behavior with teenage girls when Thompson was director general of the BBC and his involvement — if any — in the cancellation of a report on the BBC’s Nightline about Savile’s alleged misconduct. In an interview with the Times on Tuesday, Thompson said that he had been told of the Newsnight investigation but knew little of the specific allegations. “I did not impede or stop the Newsnight investigation,” he said, “nor have I done anything else that could be construed as untoward or unreasonable.” But Sullivan has called on Times reporters to cover the story more aggressively, asking, “How likely is it that he knew nothing?” Meanwhile, Thompson’s successor, George Entwistle, was being given poor marks by commentators for his testimony before a Parliamentary committee on Monday. Members of the committee voiced incredulity at Entwistle’s statement that in his previous executive position at the BBC he had been told briefly about the Newsnight investigation but failed to learn more about it. Committee chairman John Whittingdale remarked, “You are told that one of the flagship investigative programs on the BBC is looking into one of the most iconic figures that you are about to commission huge tributes to, and you don’t want to know what it is?” The tribute programs to Savile aired the following month. Entwistle said that he now “gravely regrets” the decision to go ahead with them.