The BBC and Richard Bacon have both apologised for mentioning the fact that clips of offensive material by American comedian Doug Stanhope were available online.
The corporation reacted quickly to pressured from the Down's Syndrome Association, who kicked up a storm after finding comments the comedian made on the YouTube clip Bacon referred to ‘abhorrent’.
Nothing offensive was said on air during Bacon’s interview with Stanhope; and the broadcaster stressed to his Radio 5 Live listeners the nature if the comic’s act. To emphasise his point, he said that anyone who didn’t believe the material was as bad as he made out should seek out Stanhope’s routine about Sarah Palin on YouTube. But that clip talked about Palin’s son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome.
The outraged charity said: ‘The association is shocked that a BBC employee has publicised the work of a comedian which is nothing more than a vile offensive rant and conflicts with BBC guidelines which state a responsibility to “protect the vulnerable and avoid unjustifiable offence”. As a public body the BBC should not be promoting the work of such an individual.’
Bacon immediately wrote an apologetic letter to the charity saying that the mention was ‘inappropriate’ and the BBC said it was ‘unacceptable’ to broadcast the clip.
Bacon’s letter said: ‘I am writing to apologise for any offence caused by my live interview.
‘In order to illustrate the comedic style of Stanhope's stand-up performances, I referenced available You Tube clips. This was a poor recommendation and I whole heartedly accept that this reference was inappropriate because of the subject matter.
‘I full well understand my responsibilities as a broadcaster and such a reference fell below the standards I set myself personally in my broadcasting. I am sorry if the reference has caused offence to anyone in anyway. I shouldn’t have done it.
And a statement from 5 Live said: ‘Richard has apologised for referring his listeners to the video of his guest. At no stage did he or does he condone the offensive material in that sketch, none of which was broadcast on 5 Live.
‘It was still unacceptable to highlight the clip and he fully accepts that it was inappropriate. It falls below the standards our audience expects from us and both he and 5 Live apologise unreservedly for any offence caused.’
The charity said it accepted the apologies.
However Stanhope, who is in London for a month-long run at the Leicester Square Theatre, has hit back, has no truck with the row – branding the charity a ‘cabal of cowards and self-important dim-wits’.
In a blog post before the BBC apologised, he wrote that he had been careful to act appropriately on air, saying: ‘Richard Bacon seemed to appreciate that I wasn't throwing his career into disarray by forcing parts of my act in where it didn't belong.
‘The problem with doing a straight interview on a station that appeals to the mainstream is that some of the listeners might actually come to your show having no idea what is in store and will be sadly disappointed or butt-hurt. Mr Bacon did his best to warn his people in a very English, passive-aggressive way by using 1,000 big words to say I was very offensive.’
He said that he could make ‘defensible points’ about the material bacon alluded to, but admitted: ‘The truth is that it was just flat-out shock humor meant to appeal to the most base part of my own personal sense of awful humour.’
Addressing his comments to the Down’s Syndrome Association, he said: ‘That is the same sense of humour that Richard Bacon repeatedly warned you about for your own good. Yet you still sought out the clip? Do you see why you suck shit? You see why you are far more deserving of the moniker "retarded?"
‘I don't care if you come after me for things that I've said. You can obviously see that I don't give a fuck. Going after a presenter and the network for having a guest who once said something years ago that was vaguely alluded to? You are a cabal of cowards and self-important dim-wits and the authorities who you run to for muscle should be the same people that deem you unfit to care for those you purport to be defending.
‘In short, you are not fit to protect the retarded.
‘Oh, and go fuck yourself in the head. I'm pretty drunk and bored with yelling at the stone walls that are your minds.’