02/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

On Gaza Appeal, BBC Right To Tread Warily: Dominic Lawson

When the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, government ministers, their Tory and Liberal Democrat shadows, the Sun and the Mirror, not to mention all the organs of respectable opinion, are united in criticism, then you just know that the object of their anger is almost certainly thinking more clearly than they are.

On this occasion - and not for the first time - it is the BBC which is in the stocks, being splattered by the rotten fruit of popular opinion. The Corporation has apparently committed a crime against humanity, by its decision to decline to broadcast a charity appeal for aid for Gaza, on the grounds that to do so would risk reducing public confidence in its impartiality. Sky News has in fact taken the same decision for the same reason, but, as ever, the fact that the BBC is paid for by a poll tax lends its decisions a political toxicity which is peculiar to itself.

On this occasion even retired BBC panjundrums such as Sir John Tusa, the former head of the World Service, have joined in the criticism. Yesterday Sir John told the listeners of the BBC's World at One that the Corporation should "look at the pictures" coming out of Gaza, and "have a heart". It is characteristic of the BBC's best journalism that it should encourage its former employees to lacerate its present bosses on its own wavelengths - thus perfectly demonstrating in action its commitment to impartiality.

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