The scene is the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme studio. Someone has done something that has led to an unsatisfactory situation.
JH: So, Hapless Interviewee, had you known then what we know now, shouldn’t you have acted differently?
HI: Good morning John. I think if you review the facts of the case, you will find that I did not know then what we know now.
JH: Really? Shouldn’t you have known? Wasn’t it your job to know?
HI: I can hardly be expected to have known what was at the time unknown. I only knew what was generally known and…
JH: (interjects) But you were then and are, at least for now, the man in charge. People might think it a poor excuse that you did not know more than any Tom, Dick or Harry.
HI: Look John, let’s be clear. I was faced with a situation that required a decision to be made based on the facts at my disposal at the time.
JH: (drily) Wasn’t much of a decision, was it?
JH: Well, look how badly things have turned out, with jobs lost and reputations tarnished.
HI: But as I said…
JH: (interrupts) Yes, we know what you have said. The question is shouldn’t you be considering your position?
HI: I hardly think that’s appropriate.
JH: Isn’t it? You have admitted taking a decision when not in full possession of the facts, and the consequences speak for themselves.
HI: I really don’t see how my resignation would improve the circumstances of those who have been affected by this turn of events.
JH: So you think that you should keep your job, despite your admitted inadequacy, whilst others are losing theirs?
HI: No, I…
JH: What you’re saying is that your professional survival counts for more than theirs?
HI: No John, and that’s Jim Naughtie’s catchphrase, not yours.
JH: Not any more it isn’t, not since he abandoned the Today flagship. And isn’t that what you are doing, trying to abandon responsibility for the mess that resulted from, may I remind you, your decision?
JH: Don’t you at least owe people an apology?
HI: I have never believed that generalised apologies are anything more than a meaningless salve to the conscience.
JH: (quietly) Doesn’t your conscience need to be salved? Do you feel nothing for the people you have let down?
HI: (querulously) Yes, of course I do.
JH: Then why won’t you apologise, an interim apology if you like, while you consider resigning?
HI: (Sigh, faint sob then silence)
JH: (Failing to keep smug tone out of voice) Hapless Interviewee, thank you very much.
Sarah Montague: And now it’s time for Thought for the Day, with the Reverend Richard Coles-Dawkins.
Rev RC-D: I often reflect on Christ’s command to us “Judge not, lest ye also shall be judged…”.