How does an institution rightly or wrongly accused of bias deal with those accusations? Well, probably the worst thing it could do would be to conduct its own investigation sidelining the views of its critics, and then itself approve the result. But, believe it or not, that's exactly what the BBC did a few years ago. The outcome was an oddly titled report 'From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel: Safeguarding impartiality in the 21st century'
One unwarranted postulate of From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel was that the Corporation institutionally supports "equal rights for women and gay people." On Page 72 the Report says: Does the BBC's institutional support for equal rights for women and gay people spill over unthinkingly into the way it makes programmes ....
Despite enquiries I've been unable to get a satisfactory explanation for the BBC's effrontery. (see blog on 4 August 2010)
Does the BBC’s institutional heterosexism spill over unthinkingly into the way it makes programmes? That would have been a far more realistic question. And the answer is an emphatic YES. We saw it happen two years ago when Ore interviewed George Sampson for Newsround (blog 16 August 2008) and we saw it again on Newsround yesterday when Leah asked Alexandra Burke if she had a boyfriend.
The Director of BBC Children's, Joe Godwin, is aware that not everyone is romantically attracted to members of the opposite sex. So rather than ask Alexandra whether she had a boyfriend, Leah should have asked, instead, if Alexandra had a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Such an approach would have conformed to the BBC Mission and values, especially the bit about celebrating diversity.
Alexandra said she would, if asked, duet with Justin Bieber. There was no mention of duetting with last year's winner of the X Factor. Maybe no viewers asked about Joe McElderry, but the usual BBC prejudice is another distinct possibility. We'll know for sure when Joe releases his album in a few weeks. Will he even be invited to answer viewers' questions on Newsround? Will questions about 'coming out' or about boyfriends be put to him? I doubt it, but let's see. Over to you, Owenna.
Meantime, whilst on the topic of the X Factor, it seems Simon Cowell thinks Louis Walsh has the hots for Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger. And on 26 March 2010 (5pm) Newsround reported Simon's own happy news -
Sonali: Things just keep on getting better for mean X Factor judge Simon Cowell. He's got a new girlfriend who's agreed to marry him despite him wearing his trousers that little bit too high.
Simon has been known to forget the names of his "girlfriends" .... hope he remembers Mezhgan, especially if this marriage actually goes ahead.