The fuss turned to outrage, the outrage turned into a diplomatic incident, and now Channel 4 have announced that they intend to do the decent thing, and donate the profits of tonight's Celebrity Big Brother to charity. This is supposed to prove to the world that they're not just manipulative profit-mongers, and they don't want to make unfair gains from the Jade Goody racism row.
I don't think it proves anything of the sort. The massive amount of press coverage has driven their ratings up anyway, and that effect is going to last well beyond the eviction show. The increased revenue over the rest of the series will net them far more than they lose by making a donation. The execs seem to have picked exactly the right moment, economically speaking, to calm things down. They've chosen the equilibrium point between people switching on in curiosity, and switching off in disgust.
Timing aside, the way in which the contestants have acted seems suspicious. Shilpa Shetty, the victimised Bollywood star, said she was being racially bullied a few days ago; now she says she isn't. The contestants are supposed to have no idea how the outside world sees them, so this is far too convenient. Most suspiciously of all, Jade Goody has apologised if she "offended any Indians out there" - when Jade Goody starts thinking of people other than herself, you know something's up. To be honest, I'm impressed she's heard of India.
What's more, Channel 4's charitable gesture isn't quite as original as it sounds. The suits were obviously watching BBC Question Time last night, where panellist Shami Chakrabarti suggested donating the Big Brother profits to charity. She said that if they gave the money to anti-racism and anti-bullying campaigns, it would be a very appropriate gesture.
Of course, it also means that people can feel less guilty about watching the show, and that the "great regulator known as the off button" won't cut into Channel 4's profits. That really is appalling cynicism on my part, isn't it? Maybe I'm cut out for a career in reality TV ...