BBC Breakfast's run in with racism

James Nash discusses the BBC's treatment of Naga Munchetty.

James Nash
10th October 2019
Credit: BBC News
A lot of fuss was made after presenter Naga Munchetty relayed her own experiences of racism as a women of colour on BBC Breakfast in July. Her comments were made in the context of President Trump’s remarks on Twitter, where he stated that four congresswomen of colour should “go back” to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came”.

Considering that three of the four congresswomen were all born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalised American citizen, the President’s comments were widely denounced for what they were: racist.

Munchetty weighed in on the conversation with co-host Dan Walker, relaying her own experiences with similar remarks, suggesting that every time she had been told to ‘go home’, those words had been embedded in racism. She also repeatedly stated that she was “not accusing anyone of anything” and that she was not there to give her opinion – neither of which she did.

The BBC is infamous for its strict rules on impartiality; as a publicly funded organisation, presenters are instructed to stay out of political conversations, lest the company be perceived as biased towards or against an issue. However, it’s hard to be impartial on issues such as racism. Munchetty carefully toed the line, passionately discussing the racism she has faced, whilst merely acknowledging the parallels between that and the President’s comments – despite them being clearly racist.

Considering the complaint was also made against co-host Walker, but the investigative team were only focusing on Munchetty’s comments, we have yet another worrying example of a woman of colour being persecuted by her employers and the public. The question should not be ‘did Naga Munchetty take her comments too far?’, but rather ‘has the BBC taken impartiality too far?’

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