BBC reverses decision to censure Munchetty – but what about its institutional racism?

Naga Munchetty: victim of institutional racism at the BBC?

The BBC has made the right choice for the wrong reason.

Director General Tony Hall has announced the retraction of a decision to censure Naga Munchetty over comments she made about racism by Donald Trump – after the corporation’s complaints unit was revealed to have acted in a racist way itself.

The retraction happened only after leaked information showed the executive complaints unit had ignored the part of the complaint that referred to Dan Walker, as well as Ms Munchetty.

She is one of the BBC’s most prominent minority ethnic journalists, while he may be described as “White British”.

This raises a question about racism in the BBC. Why was the part of the complaint against Mr Walker ignored while that against Ms Munchetty was upheld?

And why did the BBC try to cover it up? This part of the matter was only revealed after the text of the complaint was leaked to other news media.

It seems clear that the BBC has a problem with institutional racism. This Writer hopes that Ofcom, which is currently investigating BBC impartiality – or the lack of it, has taken note.

The BBC has reversed its decision to sanction BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty for breaking impartiality guidelines with her comments about Donald Trump, following a staff uprising against the ruling and enormous political pressure.

The U-turn over censuring her came after the Guardian obtained leaked internal correspondence casting doubts on public claims about the complaints process made by a senior BBC executive, as he attempted to explain why Munchetty’s co-host Dan Walker had escaped punishment, despite taking part in the same discussion.

The BBC’s editorial standards director, David Jordan, said Walker could not have been investigated because the single viewer complaint which led to the ruling did not mention the male presenter. “The simple fact is we haven’t had a complaint about Dan Walker’s role,” he said in one interview. “The complaint was about Naga Munchetty.”

However, copies of the viewer’s complaint leaked to the Guardian show that the original correspondence was explicitly about both Munchetty and Walker, leading to internal anger from BBC employees who demanded that women and minority ethnic journalists should be treated fairly by the corporation.

On Monday night, BBC employees said the issue had reignited wider concerns about on-screen diversity at the corporation and how the BBC treated prominent senior white, male journalists differently to staff from a minority ethnic background.

The decision also raises major questions about the BBC’s ability to enforce its impartiality guidelines in the future, given the director general has now shown himself willing to intervene and overturn ruling by the semi-independent complaints unit in face of public pressure.

Oh, and is Ofcom still examining the complaint with reference to its own rules and regulations?

Source: Naga Munchetty: BBC reverses decision to censure presenter | Media | The Guardian

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No Comments

  1. Zippi October 1, 2019 at 1:03 am - Reply

    Very interesting; I’ve just read the Guardian article and it says that the complainant made THREE complaints, TWO of them about BOTH presenters. It would appear that the Pork Pie factory is back in business and that that business is thriving. Methinks that a certain David Jordan may need to be investigated.

  2. timfrom October 1, 2019 at 5:32 am - Reply

    She is one of the BBC’s most prominent minority ethnic journalists, while he may be described as “White British”

    And Walker’s a born again Christian, isn’t he? Nuff said

    • Mike Sivier October 1, 2019 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      I wouldn’t know.

      • timfrom October 1, 2019 at 5:03 pm - Reply

        From his Wikipedia page:

        Personal life

        Walker is a Christian.[13] He made a decision not to work on a Sunday once he started employment and has maintained that throughout his career.[14] He belongs to the Evangelical branch of Christianity.[15]

        • Mike Sivier October 1, 2019 at 8:19 pm - Reply

          Fair enough. Good for him.

      • timfrom October 1, 2019 at 10:01 pm - Reply

        But might it have bought him protection from the censure and media attention that Munchetty received?

        • Mike Sivier October 1, 2019 at 10:30 pm - Reply

          That would be a decision made by members of the executive complaints unit, of course – not Mr Walker himself.

      • timfrom October 2, 2019 at 5:27 am - Reply

        Duh! Of course not Walker himself, but he and Jordan may be in the same (ahem) “brotherhood”…

        Come on, Mike, don’t be obtuse. We know how the world works, right? Would you say the suggestion that there could POSSIBLY be religious bias at the BBC is outrageous???

        • Mike Sivier October 2, 2019 at 1:37 pm - Reply

          There is no evidence to support your suggestion but I’d be interested to know what other readers have to say about it.

  3. Dave Putson October 1, 2019 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Hey Mike, I posted this on Twitter I think on 27th Sept. “Munchetty was having a discussion with Walker, if she is guilty, And I don’t view she is, why is Walker exempt from consideration? Possible unconscious bias to boot!!” so I think we very much agree on this one!!

  4. timfrom October 2, 2019 at 1:42 pm - Reply


    I replied earlier to your last reply but there’s no sign of it now. Pity, I was interested in your further thoughts.

    Do you edit/redact/censor your comment threads?

    • Mike Sivier October 2, 2019 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      I only cut comments if they include offensive language or attacks on other commenters, or for sundry other reasons of offence.

      I’m not seeing any other comments by you.

    • timfrom October 2, 2019 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      The lag between posting (5:27am) and appearing (sometime after 1:42pm) is to blame here. My comment at 1:42pm is thus redundant. Please ignore.

      • Mike Sivier October 2, 2019 at 8:16 pm - Reply

        It seems you need to learn a little patience!

      • timfrom October 2, 2019 at 10:42 pm - Reply

        Indeed I do! But it’s in such short supply right now. I think it’s safe to say we’re all suffering from severely frazzled nerves! (Sigh)

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