The BBC-Bashir-Diana Scandal


Martin Bashir took some extraordinary, even fraudulent, steps to get the celebrity interview that catapulted him to fame back in 1995. Because said celebrity was at the time the estranged wife of the heir to the British pseudo-monarchy, an extremely high-level review was just conducted, concluding Bashir and BBC acted suboptimally.

My question is whether we should care and why.

The soap opera that is the British royal family can be entertaining, which seems to be its sole remaining purpose. Diana got to embarrass said family on the airwaves it ostensibly owns, so certainly didn’t seem to suffer any harm.

Bashir has long since disgraced himself repeatedly.

The BBC is an esteemed institution but I don’t see how this incident substantially tarnishes its esteem. Celebrity gossip is a different thing than straight news reporting.

FILED UNDER: Media, Popular Culture,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kathy says:

    An esteemed institution that engages in fraud to achieve tabloid journalism, and then covers it up, has lost some esteem in my estimation.

  2. CSK says:

    Well, I suppose you could argue that a reporter who’d use forged bank statements to obtain a celebrity interview would pull a similar stunt to obtain hard news, if he could get away with it.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    My question is whether we should care and why.

    An excellent question.

  4. Mu Yixiao says:

    My question is whether we should care and why.

    Because it shows that Diana was trying to reveal the secrets of the ancient lizard people who are posing as the British royal family! That’s why Charles had Diana killed–she was going to reveal his secret. They’ve already had to replace the queen half a dozen times in the past few years. And they lost the mold to the Prince Phillip skin-suit, so when it got damaged, they had to recall their operative.

    Don’t you read the newspapers at the checkout lane??

  5. wr says:

    The “reason” we should care is that the current right-wing government, like all of Britain’s right-wing governments, is trying to severely damage the BBC, and they will be riding this until the legs fall off…

  6. CSK says:

    Patrick Jephson, Diana’s private secretary, was the principal victim in this. Bashir’s forged bank statements showed that Jephson was receiving payments to spy on Diana, which was completely untrue. Jephson was either fired or forced to leave his job.

    Bashir knew exactly how to feed Diana’s paranoia. What a cockroach.

  7. Not the IT Dept. says:

    “My question is whether we should care and why.”

    Then why post about it?

  8. dmichael says:

    OMG, I’m going to defend a post by Dr. Joyner. He posted it for the legitimate reason that it reflects on media’s fixation on celebrity and its willingness to engage in corrupt actions (in this case fraud) and in others, phone hacking to get this crap on its channels or pages. It also reflects on the public’s insatiable desire for gossip and scandal. While I know that none of you will be tuning in to watch Prince Harry jabbering with Oprah (again) but I predict it will get massive views. Now that boy has learned how to use media. See Marina Hyde’s column in todays Guardian.

  9. Kathy says:

    Does anyone else recall watching that interview?

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Then why post about it?

    Some of my posts are about getting my 2 cents worth in on a subject. Some of them are just chronicling important-to-me events. Others, like this one, are designed to generate discussion based on a preliminary but not all that firmly-held belief.

  11. CSK says:

    I think I did, but I may only have watched the most sensational excerpts. I’m not acutely interested in the royal family per se, but I’ve always been a student of English and Scottish history, and the royals are certainly part of that.

  12. dazedandconfused says:


    re: What a cockroach.

    To me that’s the real nut of the story, Bashir destroying a guy’s rep, as in that world rep is everything, to get himself an interview. I believe you, sir, owe cockroaches an apology.

  13. Kathy says:


    I recall I watched it all. I remember very little about it.

  14. CSK says:

    I, too, think this is the nut of the story–that Bashir was willing to trash someone’s reputation in order to score a cheap scoop, not to speak of how he crassly manipulated a woman who was clearly suffering from mental illness.

    You’re right. Cockroaches are better than Bashir.

  15. EddieInCA says:

    I was living in London at the time. I cannot overstate what a big f**king deal this was in the UK at the time. The Mail, Standard, Guardian, Times, etc, ran stories about it for WEEKS. It was on every station, radio and TV, constantly.

    Diana was wronged. Badly. There is a special place in hell for Bashir.

    ** Full Disclosure: I did work for Dodi Fayed from 1993-1996, and found him to be a good dude. Most people don’t know that he was an established, well-respected Hollywood Producer with credits such as “Chariots of Fire,” “Hook” “F/X,” and “The Scarlett Letter”. He had a bright future ahead of him as well.