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Naga Munchetty: Why do a gang of old, white men think they understand racism better than her?

There’s no business like show business, is there?

That’s what politics is – at least, as far as the BBC is concerned – and the Naga Munchetty scandal is simply evidence of that fact.

To demonstrate my point, I’ll come to it at a tangent: Yesterday evening (September 28) I was watching a thought-provoking Doctor Who story (stay with me!) in which people living a slave-like existence in a dystopian regime were distracted from their hellish lives by government-controlled media that played video “nasties” at them constantly, with viewing compulsory.

They were given an illusion of democracy, being asked to vote on the decisions of their governor – but none of their choices made any difference to the real balance of power, which was held by corporate interests who were unaffected by the vote.

It struck me that this show, made more than 30 years ago, is a frighteningly accurate comment on the situation in the UK today.

How many of us go to the BBC for our news? The last statistics I saw suggested 70 per cent of us consider it our primary news provider.

That’s because it is described as our “public service broadcaster”.

But it seems the BBC is providing its services to somebody else.

Look at Ms Munchetty: she has been censured after voicing an un-approved opinion about US President Donald Trump’s racism towards women of colour.

“Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism,” Munchetty told viewers in July, during a discussion with her co-host Dan Walker. She went on to add that she was “absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that”.

This triggered a complaint – from an unnamed source. One wonders who this person was, as they seem to have been able to influence the BBC’s mostly white, middle-aged-or-older, complaints unit members in a way that most people find impossible. Theirs was the only complaint about this issue.

Kerry-Anne Mendoza got it right when she criticised the BBC’s actions in this tweet:

This is correct; Trump’s words were racist and Ms Munchetty – a woman of colour herself – had every right to call them what they were. It is the BBC’s decision that is racist – and this creates problems for it in more ways than one.

BBC editorial standards director David Jordan tried to defuse the row on Radio 4’s Today show, saying that, while Mr Trump’s comments were racist, Ms Munchetty had breached editorial guidelines because she appeared to make a judgement on the US president’s personality: “In the politics of the present, when we are in a politics of name-calling and insult, I think it’s probably unwise of the BBC to be calling out people for being liars or racist. What is really important is that we look at the things people say, we analyse them, we describe them objectively.”

But the official finding of the complaints unit shows that Ms Munchetty did not directly accuse Mr Trump of racism in the brief exchange, which took place in response to questions on her personal feelings from her co-host, Mr Walker.

Mr Jordan’s words seem to suggest that BBC political coverage is little more than an act, with presenters told to keep to a pre-arranged script – as satirised by Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy in response to a tweet by veteran broadcaster John Simpson:

Now the BBC has put itself in a situation where it has been forced to accept a review of the decision by Ofcom, measuring it against the regulator’s own broadcasting code. A team is already reviewing the footage and a verdict is expected next week that could potentially undermine the BBC’s complaints process.

This is particularly interesting for people like myself who have made complaints to the BBC that have been rejected – and in particular to the BBC’s attitude toward racism.

After the BBC broadcast its Panorama documentary, Is Labour Antisemitic in July, it received more complaints about that programme than any other during the following 14 days.

Yet it has steadfastly rejected those complaints, which concerned the quality of the evidence used by the Panorama programme-makers, and many of which were made by people who had been through the disciplinary procedure that the BBC claimed to have been investigating.

So it seems the BBC is happy to accuse Labour of a form of racism on the basis of unreliable evidence – and to defend its claim against thousands of people who know better – and is also happy to make a false accusation against one of its own presenters, on the basis of a single complaint.

Clearly the BBC’s definition of racism changes to fit individual situations. That is, in itself, institutionally racist.

And this supports the claim (in the Doctor Who story I was watching – remember it?) that people are kept down by a complicit media. The BBC wants people to think Labour is racist so it suppresses complaints that undermine that position; the BBC wants people to think Donald Trump isn’t racist, so it smears its own presenter.

Now, the big question:

Who tells the BBC to do these things? And what is their motive?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.


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