The BBC has reversed its decision to sanction Breakfast show presenter Naga Munchetty, on September 30, for breaching broadcaster’s strict impartiality guidelines. The BBC had earlier upheld a complaint against Naga Munchetty after she criticised US President Donald Trump on air for his comment. In July, Trump made a comment which was apparently directed to Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. Trump, in a tweet, asked them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”, adding that they should come back after that and show how it is done.
Naga Muchetty, on her ‘BBC Breakfast’ show, said that certain phrases are embedded with racism. “And every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go home, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded racism,” Munchetty told her co-host on the show. “Now I'm not accusing anyone of anything here but you know what certain phrases mean,” she added. The corporation, in a response to a complaint addressed by the corporation's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), had said that its editorial guidelines "do not allow for journalists to...give their opinions about the individual making the remarks or their motives for doing so - in this case President Trump". Upholding the complaint partially, the corporation said that those judgements are for the audience to make.
The ruling of the broadcaster was not taken well by media personalities in the UK and 40 popular media personalities wrote an open letter to the BBC to reconsider its decision. “We, the undersigned group of black people who work in the media and broadcasting in the UK, strongly condemn this finding,” the statement read. “..and assert that it amounts to both a misunderstanding of the BBC's editorial guidelines and a form of racially discriminatory treatment towards BAME [black and minority ethnic] people who work on programming," it added.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had also condemned the corporation’s earlier decision and said that Munchetty had stated a fact and it was not an opinion.
“Telling people to ‘go back’ to ‘places from which they came’ is racist. Naga Munchetty stated a fact,” Corbyn Tweeted. “She shared experiences of racism she's suffered. That can’t be at odds with any editorial guidelines. The BBC must explain this astonishing decision,” he added.
After a lot of criticism, the BBC tried to clarify that though Munchetty was pressed to comment by her co-presenter and had a legitimate reason, she did comment directly and critically on Trump’s possible motive. “Ms Munchetty had been pressed to comment by her co-presenter and had a legitimate, personal reason for feeling strongly on this issue,” read the statement. The statement further read that “Ms Munchetty, despite at the end of the exchange acknowledging 'I am not here to give my opinion', did comment directly and critically on the possible motive for, and potential consequences of, the president's conduct, which by their nature were a matter for legitimate discussion and debate.” The broadcaster also allegedly attempted to prohibit its employees from voicing their views backing her.