EMILY Maitlis insists the BBC “got it very wrong” for criticising Naga Munchetty’s comments on Donald Trump.
The Newsnight presenter gave her full support to Munchetty, whom she believes was “very careful in her language”.
In July, Naga Munchetty said Donald Trump’s comments, telling four US Congresswoman of colour to ‘go home’ could be ’embedded in racism’[/caption]
In July, Ms Munchetty spoke out on BBC Breakfast after Trump tweeted four female political rivals from minority backgrounds should “go back” to where they came from.
She then said she had been told similar things throughout her life and said the president’s comments were “embedded in racism.”
Naga said: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.”
Naga Munchetty told BBC Breakfast co-host, Dan Walker, that she thought Donald Trump’s comments are ’embedded with racism.’ But now the BBC have turned on Mr Walker[/caption]
The BBC condemned her for going “beyond what the guidelines allowed for” despite saying she was entitled to “give a personal response.”
Emily, speaking at The Cliveden Literary Festival, said yesterday: “She [Munchetty] was very careful in her language. She said she herself had been told to go home.
“From what I understand, the BBC ruling said it was fine to call out racism, but not to call Trump a racist.
“Now, I’ve tried to practise that in the comfort of my own home. I think it’s complicated.
“The point is that the BBC, the complaints body, is trying to work its way through a semantic and linguistic conundrum, that they end up looking as if they have their heads down in this Dickensian ledger of for and against, or good and bad.”
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The corporation drew criticism for upholding the complaint, leading to a group of of 150 black and minority ethnic celebs slamming the BBC for reprimanding Breakfast host Ms Munchetty for suggesting the US President was ‘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.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “The statement from the executive team is clear, the BBC is not impartial on racism.
“Racism is not an opinion and it is not a matter for debate. Racism is racism.”
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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