BBC STAFF and viewers have come to Naga Munchetty’s defence after she was reprimanded by the corporation’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU).
Munchetty, a presenter on BBC Breakfast, was deemed to have breached BBC guidelines after she linked Donald Trump’s comments to racism.
Speaking on air on July 17, after Trump made headlines for asking why three congresswomen of colour didn’t “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, Munchetty said: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.
“Now I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”
“I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious that a man in that position feels it’s okay to skirt the lines with using language like that,” she said to her co-presenter Dan Walker.
Today the BBC released more detail about its decision to uphold the complaint made against Munchetty.
In a statement, the ECU said: “President Trump’s comments that a number of female Democrat members of Congress should ‘go back’ to the ‘totally broken and crime infested places from which they came’ were widely condemned as racist, and we reported on this extensively.”
It added that Munchetty was “perfectly entitled to give a personal response to the phrase” and that “there was nothing wrong with her talking about her own experiences of racism” but that the complaint was upheld as she shared her personal thoughts on the individual in question.
“Our editorial guidelines do not allow for journalists to then give their opinions about the individual making the remarks or their motives for doing so,” the ECU said.
Among those who have come out in support of Munchetty and questioned the BBC Executive Complaints Unit’s decision is BBC News presenter Carrie Grace.
Grace tweeted: “#nagamunchetty Unease among #BC journalists for whom ‘go back’ = racist. If power trumps or bends meaning then no point in journalism, just print propaganda. There is no BBC journalism worth the name without BBC values. Accountability is one. Explain [Naga Munchetty] reprimand please.”
BBC correspondent Sangita Myska said: “Right now, there is a lot of bewilderment among BAME staff.”
She added that many of her colleagues were worried about showing their concern in case they also faced action.
Ayesha Hazarika, former Labour adviser, described the decision as “insane” and said there was bewilderment among decent, sensible people everywhere.
LBC’s political editor Theo Usherwood tweeted: “If you’re going to criticise the BBC, I might gently suggest this is where you take aim.
If journalists can’t walk outside and tell you if it’s raining, then there is little point in having journalists.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Telling people to “go back” to “places from which they came” is racist. Naga Munchetty stated a fact.
“She shared experiences of racism she’s suffered. That can’t be at odds with any editorial guidelines. The BBC must explain this astonishing decision.”
One Twitter user who said the BBC’s response to Munchetty’s comments was in stark contrast to their treatment of Laura Keunssberg’s tweeted: “I’d love to know how @BBCNaga was supposed to have breached guidelines. They supported Laura Keunssberg recently when she appeared to defend Boris Johnson but throw Naga under a bus for a perceived slight against Trump and they wonder why there’s so much criticism of BBC bias.”
These thoughts were echoed by another commenter who said: “One rule for Naga, another for [Laura Keunssberg].”