Once lost, a reputation can never be fully restored. The BBC has been accused of 'dumbing down' in recent years but even the harshest critics have stopped short of accusing the organisation of outright distortion of the truth, until today. This morning, every paper carried the story of the Queen 'flouncing out' of a photographic session with Annie Leibovitz. The reporters had been shown BBC footage of the event and encouraged by the Controller of BBC 1 to make headlines of this uncharacteristic behaviour.
The newspapers were only just landing on the doormat, when BBC newscasters began announcing that it was all a mistake and that the film had been tampered with to make the story. As the day wore on, the apologies turned into excuses and the independent production company that made the film has been blamed. I'm sure that many people will find this apparent refusal to accept responsibilty makes the situation worse; it would have been better to display Peter Fincham's head on a platter.
The integrity of the BBC has been tarnished and I can't think of any way to restore public confidence.