THE BBC Director-General has written to staff saying Naga Munchetty was “within her rights” to criticise Donald Trump amid backlash over reprimanding her.
Lord Tony Hall and other executives sent a letter to BBC staff assuring them “racism is racism” and “diversity matters hugely”.
Naga Munchetty told BBC Breakfast co-host, Dan Walker, that she thought Donald Trump’s comments are ’embedded with racism.’[/caption]
Ms Munchetty spoke out on BBC Breakfast after Mr Trump tweeted four female political rivals from minority backgrounds should “go back” to where they came from.
The British Asian presenter, who was born in London with a dad from Mauritius and a mum from India, said she had been told similar things throughout her life and said the president’s comments were ’embedded in racism’.
The BBC then condemned her for going “beyond what the guidelines allowed for” despite saying she was entitled to “give a personal response.”
The corporation drew criticism for upholding the complaint, leading to a group of of 150 black and minority ethnic celebs have slammed the BBC for reprimanding Breakfast host Naga Munchetty for calling the US President ‘racist’.
Sir Lenny Henry is among the actors, TV presenters and entertainers who have signed a letter demanding the BBC overturns its decision that Ms Munchetty broke its rules with her criticism of the US president.
Chancellor Sajid Javid also backed the presenter, calling the decision “ridiculous” and saying that Ms Munchetty’s reaction was “perfectly understandable.”
‘RACISM IS RACISM’
After fierce criticism, the BBC Executive Committee sent a message to employees making its stance clear.
It states: “You will have heard a lot of comment over the past few days about the BBC and the reporting of racism.
“The BBC is not impartial on racism. Racism is not an opinion and it is not a matter for debate. Racism is racism.
“Naga Munchetty – one of our stars – was completely within her rights to speak about the tweets of Donald Trump which have been widely condemned as racist.
“We completely back her in saying ‘as a woman of colour, to go back where I came from, that was embedded in racism’.
“She was speaking honestly and from the heart about her own experiences. We admire her for it and she was completely justified in doing so.
“The very limited finding was not about Naga’s comments on racism. That part of the complaint was rejected.
“Diversity matters hugely. The success of the BBC is built on the quality and diversity of our people. That is not negotiable.”
The controversy began when Ms Munchetty said Mr Trump’s comments about the four politicians were “racist.”
The four congresswomen, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, were told by the president that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken places from which they came”.
The four women are US citizens and three of them were born and raised in the US.
During the BBC Breakfast show, Ms Munchetty told her co-presenter 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.
“I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”
Questioned further by Mr Walker, she said she was “absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that”.
Who has signed the letter backing Naga Munchetty?
The signitories of the Open Letter to the BBC include:
Sir Lenny Henry – British comedian, actor, singer and TV presenter.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy – British journalist who presents the Channel 4 News.
Adrian Lester – Actor, director and film writer.
Asif Kapadia – British filmmaker and director.
Gillian Joseph – Newscaster for Sky News.
David Harewood – British actor.
Gina Yashere – British comedian.
Marverine Cole – British radio and TV presenter.
Marcus Ryder – Chief Editor of CGTN Digital.
Afua Hirsch – British writer and broadcaster.
Charlene White – British journalist and newsreader at ITV News.
Isha Sesay – British journalist.
The letter, which was released on Friday morning, “strongly” condemned the BBC for its decision.
It also said that the decision was a “form of racially discriminatory treatment towards BAME people.”
It also requested: “BBC management issue support for journalists and acknowledge there can be no expectation of ‘impartiality’ over experiences of racism.”
It also went on to question the bodies that oversee its complaints – asking officials in the BBC Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) and Ofcom to: “Address their own levels of diversity and increase transparency as to how they reach their decisions.”
It continued: “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 signatories also claim that this will set a dangerous precedent for BAME employees in the future.
The letter ended by saying it believed: “In addition to being deeply flawed, illegal and contrary to the spirit and purpose of public broadcasting, the BBC’s current position will have a profound effect on future diversity within the BBC.”
Former Channel 5 News presenter Marverine Cole also signed the letter and today tweeted her support for Ms Munchetty.
She wrote: “Together we stand. I signed this letter. Racism should be called out. It’s ridiculous when someone calling out racism is reprimanded.”
Marcus Ryder, the Chief Editor of Chinese broadcaster CGTN Digital, added: “Proud to be signatory, along with over 150 other BAME broadcasters and journalists, demanding change following the Naga judgement that she broke BBC editorial guidelines.”
MOST READ IN NEWS
The BBC was forced to clarify its ruling over Ms Munchetty on Thursday after it was widely criticised, notably by Mr Corbyn, who said that she “stated a fact”, and urged the BBC to “explain this astonishing decision”.
In a statement, they said the corporation’s editorial guidelines: “Do not allow for journalists to then give their opinions about the individual making the remarks or their motives for doing so.
“It was for this reason that the complaint was partially upheld.
“Those judgements are for the audience to make.”
Naga Munchetty’s comment came after Donald Trump told four female politicians to ‘go back’ to where they came from[/caption]
Munchetty called Trump’s comments ’embedded with racism’[/caption]
Krishnan Guru Murthy was among the signatories of the letter to the BBC[/caption]
David Harewood also backed Munchetty and signed the open letter[/caption]
Chancellor Sajid Javid showed his support calling the BBC’s ruling ‘ridiculous’[/caption]
Isha Sesay also signed the letter, demanding the ruling against Munchetty to be revoked[/caption]
Naga Munchetty regularly presents on BBC One[/caption]
Afua Hirsch also deemed the ruling unfair and backed Munchetty’s comments about Donald Trump[/caption]
Gina Yashere was also among the signatories[/caption]
The Open Letter to the BBC on the Naga Munchetty ruling
“We, the undersigned group of people of colour who work in the media and broadcasting in the UK, strongly condemn this finding and assert that it amounts to both a misunderstanding of the BBC’s editorial guidelines, and a form of racially discriminatory treatment towards BAME people who work on programming.
“The BBC’s editorial guidelines allow for “professional judgment, rooted in evidence”, and require “cultural views in other communities” to be taken into account. The ECU – which we believe does not reflect the diverse cultural views in the BAME communities in the UK – has failed to acknowledge the following:
“Racism is not a valid opinion on which an “impartial” stance can or should be maintained;
“For communities and individuals who experience racist abuse – including 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.
“While we stand in support of Munchetty, the consequences of this decision are widespread with implications for the entire media landscape in the UK and those who work within it.
“The scope of its effect is already evidenced in the unprecedented number of BAME media figures who have openly and publicly voiced their condemnation on social media.
“In addition, we note the number of BBC journalists who have contacted us privately to express their concern at the climate of fear at the organisation, their feeling of being censored, and their apprehension at the consequences of their speaking out in support of this statement.
“We demand that: 1. The ECU revisits and takes seriously overturning its decision;
“2. BBC management issue their support for journalists and acknowledge there can be no expectation of “impartiality” over expressions and experiences of racism;
“3. The bodies that oversee complaints about broadcasting, including the ECU and Ofcom, address their own levels of diversity and increase transparency as to how they reach their decisions, and how that process takes place in a manner reflective of the diversity of the population.
“We believe that, in addition to being deeply flawed, illegal and contrary to the spirit and purpose of public broadcasting, the BBC’s current position will have a profound effect on future diversity within the BBC.
“To suggest that future BAME broadcasters will be hired at the corporation on the premise that they remain “impartial” about how they feel about their experiences of racism is ludicrous.
“To require journalists of all ethnicities and races to endorse racism as a legitimate “opinion” is an abrogation of responsibility of the most serious nature.”
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