Beeb reverses decision to uphold complaint against presenter Naga Munchetty

A TV presenter has had an upheld complaint against her reversed by her boss following comments she made live on TV about US President Donald Trump.

Naga Munchetty, 44, who was born in Streatham and went to Graveney School in Welham Road, Tooting made the comments on BBC Breakfast after an interview with a supporter of Donald Trump on July 17, and following tweets Mr Trump made relating to four American congresswomen.

The BBC’s editorial complaints unit (ECU) found Mrs Munchetty had breached the corporation’s guidelines in issuing the remark on September 25.

After increasing public pressure, the BBC’s director general, Lord Hall, told BBC staff: “I don’t think Naga’s words were sufficient to merit a partial uphold of the complaint around the comments she made.

“There was never any sanction against Naga and I hope this step makes that absolutely clear.”

It comes after an ‘open letter’ was signed by notable people, including entertainer Lenny Henry and journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

The letter stated that by upholding the partial complaint, the BBC had failed to acknowledge that racism was not a valid opinion on which an “impartial” stance can or should be maintained.

It said: “For communities and individuals who experience racist abuse – including Ms Munchetty – being expected to treat racist ideas as potentially valid has devastating and maybe illegal consequences for our dignity and ability to work in a professional environment, as well as being contrary to race equality and human rights legislation.

“To suggest a journalist can “talk about her own experiences of racism” while withholding a critique on the author of racism (in this case President Trump) has the ludicrous implication that such racism may be legitimate and should be contemplated as such.”

The letter also asked that the ECU revisited their complaint, that the BBC understands there can be no “impartiality” when it comes to racism, and that the ECU and Ofcom look at reviewing their own levels of diversity and ensure their approach to issues on race is more reflective of the population in future.

The tweets made by Mr Trump that sparked the heated discussion on the morning show said that four US Congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.

Mrs Munchetty said to her co-host Dan Walker: “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.”

Mrs Munchetty said she felt absolutely furious about it and suggested many people in the UK might feel the same way.


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