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The BBC has been severely criticised on social media after ruling that BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty breached impartiality guidelines by suggesting that Donald Trump’s “Go home” comments directed at a number of BAME Congresswomen were “embedded in racism“.
In off-script comments made earlier this year on the BBC Breakfast programme, Munchetty said she was “absolutely furious” about tweets posted by Donald Trump which suggested that four BAME Democratic Congresswomen – three of whom were actually born in the USA, with another arriving to the country as a child refugee – should “go home“:
“Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to “go home” or “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.”
Munchetty went on to say:
“I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious that a man in that position feels it’s OK to skirt the line of using language like that.”
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) July 17, 2019
Immediately following her comments, Munchetty received praise on social media for calling out Donald Trump’s “blatant racism“.
However, following a number of complaints made to the corporation, the BBC has now decided to rebuke Munchetty, declaring that her comments breached their impartiality guidelines.
In an official statement, the BBC stated:
“The ECU ruled that while Ms Munchetty was entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go back to your own country’ as it was rooted in her own experience, overall her comments went beyond what the guidelines allow for.”
The BBC’s decision to rebuke a BAME presenter for calling out unequivocally racist comments made by the US President came in for stinging criticism on social media, with one user stating:
“I saw this interview live and thought @BBCNaga’s comments were balanced and relevant given the topic and her experiences as a woman of colour. I challenge anyone to provide an example where telling a person to “go home” to a different country isn’t steeped in racism or prejudice.”
I saw this interview live and thought @BBCNaga's comments were balanced and relevant given the topic and her experiences as a woman of colour. I challenge anyone to provide an example where telling a person to "go home" to a different country isn't steeped in racism or prejudice.
— Andrea Smart (@ThatSmartPerson) September 25, 2019
Whilst another Twitter user simply stated:
“How can you ever be impartial over bigotry?“
Miqdaad Versi, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said the BBC’s decision was “appalling“, writing on Twitter:
“The BBC has ruled that factually stating Trump’s racist call (4 politicians to “go back” to their home countries), is “embedded in racism”, is apparently not OK for BBC journalists like the brilliant @BBCNaga
The BBC has ruled that factually stating Trump's racist call (4 politicians to “go back” to their home countries), is "embedded in racism", is apparently not OK for BBC journalists like the brilliant @BBCNaga
Calling out racism is not partisan
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) September 25, 2019
Whilst Jess Brammar, the former Deputy Editor of the BBC’s Newsnight programme – now the Executive Editor for HuffPost – said she also thought her former employer’s decision was wrong, stating:
“Been writing and deleting longer tweets on this, because it’s depressing and/but I love BBC & often defend it. I think Naga talking about her experience of racism was powerful television, I think it was fair for her to reference Trump’s comments in that context, which were racist”
Been writing and deleting longer tweets on this, because it's depressing and/but I love BBC & often defend it. I think Naga talking about her experience of racism was powerful television, I think it was fair for her to reference Trump's comments in that context, which were racist
— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) September 25, 2019
Munchetty herself has not yet responded to the BBC’s decision.