CommonSpace columnist Yvonne Ridley raises questions over the BBC's decision to invite controversial commentator Katie Hopkins onto a political programme to discuss Donald Trump
THE BBC's political show This Week really scraped the barrel on Thursday night when it paid commentator Katie Hopkins to defend US presidential candidate Donald Trump's behaviour after he dismissed taped comments of himself as normal male 'locker room talk'.
For the record, there is nothing normal about grabbing an unsuspecting woman's vagina. It is a serious sexual assault and therefore a criminal offence.
What made the sketch even worse as Hopkins made light of Trump's actions by calling it "pussygate" was that she was dressed as a US cheerleader surrounded by young girls calling themselves Zoo Riot London, and dressed in similar fashion.
I can't believe that the BBC has become so desensitised by Trump and his vile behaviour that it approves of someone making light of a man who boasted how he could approach random women and "grab them by the pussy".
I can't believe that the BBC has become so desensitised by Trump and his vile behaviour that it approves of someone making light of a man who boasted how he could approach random women and "grab them by the pussy" and further boast they’d "let him" because of his fame.
What he described was a serious sexual assault which very likely traumatised his victims – possibly invoking fear a bit like one of the Jimmy Savile victims who described in February how Savile touched her "intimately, forcefully" during an attack which happened in a Top of the Pops dressing room when she was 16, and she says she felt "trapped".
Imagine a current affairs program paying Hopkins to trivialise the Savile scandal – exactly, it is inconceivable. While I'm not suggesting for one moment Trump is a paedophile he has, by his own admission, boasted about grabbing women by their genitalia. That in itself is a crime even though he said they just let him do it.
American author and professor Dr Rebecca Hains recently wrote of Trump's encounters: "It is widely known that when women are sexually assaulted, they are likely to freeze due to shock and terror.
"This is part of what makes it difficult for women to successfully prosecute men for sexual assault: the perpetrator’s defence that 'she didn’t fight it' is distorted into signifying that 'she wanted it'. It’s victim-blaming."
I'm not sure who is advising Andrew Neil, This Week's host, but when I worked for him many years ago as a researcher I would have lodged strong objections about such a tasteless, offensive sketch going ahead.
As robust as his interview questions were with Hopkins on the TW sofa afterwards, the BBC's actions in allowing the sketch to go ahead in the first place was indefensible.
The BBC's moral compass is currently lost, somewhere up the swanny and to the left of never never land.
You simply cannot make light of any man boasting about carrying out a number of serious sexual assaults on unsuspecting women.
So much for corporate guilt … the BBC's moral compass is currently lost, somewhere up the swanny and to the left of never never land.
Quite what Dame Janet Smith, who authored a hard-hitting report into Savile’s relationship with the BBC, would have made of last night's show is anyone's guess.
Picture courtesy of the BBC
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