BBC’s Naga Munchetty reprimanded over Trump criticism

Broadcaster says discussion of president’s racist tweets broke editorial guidelines

The BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty breached the broadcaster’s editorial guidelines after she criticised racist comments by Donald Trump about the backgrounds of four female politicians, the corporation has ruled.

In July Trump tweeted that congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley should “go back to the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. All four are US citizens and only Omar was born overseas.

The following day BBC Breakfast invited a Trump supporter on air to defend him, prompting Munchetty to discuss the US president’s use of loaded terms.

“Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism,” the BBC journalist told viewers in July. “Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”

Her co-host, Dan Walker, asked her how she felt when she heard the president use such language. She replied: “Furious. Absolutely furious and I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that.”

Munchetty suggested that Trump’s use of such language encouraged others to use it before adding: “Anyway, I’m not here to give my opinion.”

"I've been told as a woman of colour to 'go home'..."@BBCNaga shares her experience as we discuss the reaction to comments made by President Trump.

— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) July 17, 2019

The clip of their brief discussion went viral, with the BBC’s own accounts pushing it out on social media where it reached hundreds of thousands of people. But after a viewer complaint the corporation’s complaints unit decided that Munchetty had gone too far in expressing a personal opinion while broadcasting in her capacity as a BBC journalist.

A BBC spokeswoman said the complaints unit “ruled that while Ms Munchetty was entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go back to your own country’ as it was rooted in her own experience, overall her comments went beyond what the guidelines allow for”.

Last week the same complaints unit found that the Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis had overstepped the mark during a discussion involving the Spectator columnist Rod Liddle, after a viewer complained she had been “sneering and bullying” towards the rightwing journalist.

The complaints unit concluded that the “persistent and personal nature of the criticism risked leaving her open to the charge that she had failed to be even-handed”.


Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
BBC defends censure of Naga Munchetty over Trump comments
BBC Breakfast Show presenter made comments after Trump told four congresswomen to ‘go home’

Jim Waterson Media editor

27, Sep, 2019 @10:37 AM

Article image
Naga Munchetty says she stands by her Trump comments
Presenter speaks for first time about being censured by BBC over racism remarks

Sam Gelder

01, Feb, 2020 @12:25 PM

Article image
BBC staff complain over Munchetty reprimand for Trump remark
Complaints unit ruling against Naga Munchetty comes amid concerns broadcaster falls short on diversity issues

Jim Waterson Media editor

26, Sep, 2019 @12:39 PM

Article image
BBC tried to prevent Ofcom inquiry into Naga Munchetty row
Regulator says it has ‘serious concerns’ around transparency of BBC’s complaints process

Jim Waterson Media editor

07, Oct, 2019 @12:08 PM

Article image
BBC urged to reform complaints policy amid Naga Munchetty row
Handling of viewer feedback revives concerns over treatment of BAME staff

Jim Waterson Media editor

01, Oct, 2019 @6:04 PM

Article image
Naga Munchetty reprimand blurs BBC’s own lines between reportage and opinion | Kenan Malik
The BBC Breakfast presenter had every right to express her anger at Donald Trump’s racist comment

Kenan Malik

29, Sep, 2019 @9:30 AM

Article image
BBC staff challenge managers over racism in Naga Munchetty row
BAME workers at meeting demand an inquiry and say presenter deserves an apology

Jim Waterson Media editor

03, Oct, 2019 @7:37 PM

Article image
Growing backlash against BBC in Naga Munchetty race row
Corporation faces staff revolt over response to presenter’s Donald Trump remarks

Jim Waterson, Caroline Davies and Heather Stewart

27, Sep, 2019 @5:43 PM

Article image
Naga Munchetty: BBC reverses decision to censure presenter
Director general Tony Hall emails staff to say he is overturning ruling over impartiality guidelines

Jim Waterson Media editor

30, Sep, 2019 @7:47 PM

Article image
Prominent Britons of colour condemn BBC over Naga Munchetty complaint
Corporation accused of racial discrimination after presenter reprimanded for Trump remarks

Caroline Davies

27, Sep, 2019 @10:36 AM