David Bernstein said that the BBC's 'climbdown' over the Gary Lineker saga is 'embarrassing in the extreme'
BY JC Reporter
David Bernstein (L) has described the BBC's climbdown over the Gary Lineker saga as showing that we are living in a era of 'diktat by celebrity' (Photos via Getty Images)
The former English Football Association (FA) chairman has said that we are living in a era of “diktat by celebrity” after the BBC dramatically u-turned on its suspension of sports presenter Gary Lineker.
David Bernstein, the Jewish former chair of England’s football governing body, described the corporation’s response to Mr Lineker’s tweet and the ensuing furore as “embarrassing in the extreme” and added that the BBC “needs to sort out its leadership”.
It comes after the BBC reversed its position and announced that Mr Lineker would return to air this weekend after he was made to “step back” following a tweet last week that described the language being used around immigration as “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s.”
The BBC has announced an independent review of social media guidelines, particularly in relation to freelancers and staff not working on news and current affairs output, but Mr Bernstein, who ran football’s governing body from 2011 to 2013 says that the saga shows that the BBC is “in thrall to its stars”.
Gary Lineker outside his home on Sunday (Getty Images)
In a letter to The Times newspaper on Friday, one day after the controversy exploded on front pages across the country, Mr Bernstein wrote that he was “not optimistic that [the BBC] will deal appropriately with Gary Lineker’s remark”, despite how “damaging” it was to the corporation’s reputation.
Bernstein, who was born in 1943 as the Holocaust was underway, wrote: “Speaking as a Jew who was born during the war, the events of that ghastly period have shaped many aspects of my life, and thus my greater concern is the compulsion to compare our government’s intentions to the actions of Nazi Germany.
“This shows an ignorance of European history, a lack of proportionality and a (possibly unintentional) trivialising of the policies of a regime that perpetrated crimes that are to this day impossible to fully comprehend.”
Following the BBC’s announcement yesterday that Lineker would return to air this weekend without having to withdraw the remark or apologise, Mr Bernstein wrote in another letter to The Times: “Some half-hearted action followed by a climbdown and apology by the BBC is embarrassing in the extreme. We really do live in an age of diktat by celebrity.
“The BBC needs to sort out its leadership and take steps to re-establish some authority. The alternative is chaos and a further loss of confidence in our institutions.”
David Bernstein pictured during an FA press conference following the resignation of England manager Fabio Capello, at Wembley Stadium on February 9, 2012 (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Bernstein was born in Lancashire in 1943 as the Holocaust was underway in Europe. He has been a supporter of Manchester City since 1954, and he watched the 1956 FA Cup Final between City and Birmingham City, despite it coinciding with the day of his bar mitzvah.
A chartered accountant by profession, Bernstein chaired his boyhood club from 1998 to 2003, and is widely credited for leading through a period of stability and revival for helping pull the club out of a difficult era.
He was the FA chairman from January 2011 until his 70th birthday in May 2013, and said that his main priorities during his tenure were reducing dissent and increasing respect in English football, establishing closer links with Fifa to gain greater influence in international football, and enforcing a fairer playing field financially.
READ MORE: BBC 'ignored' complaint on Lineker tweet lamenting death of Hamas fighter
Nancy Reuben head Anthony Wolfson to step down at end of term
The Etgar Quiz no 228
The next generation of Holocaust memoir is equally as powerful
The Canadian Choir (Choir! Choir!) boys taking on Europe
The legendary actor posted a throwback to his role in the Ephron classic When Harry Met Sally
In Tehran, the sacked Bristol professor also blamed Israel and the US for stoking Iranian protests
Picoult's novel The Storyteller was removed from a library in Florida
Among the more common rhetoric calling for the liberation of Palestine ‘from the river to the sea’, chanters honoured ‘all the martyrs’ and called for intifada as the only solution
'I no longer trust the attorney general,' the national security minister, himself a lawyer, tells the judges
©2023 The Jewish Chronicle