Naga Munchetty says presenters 'aren't robots' in cryptic swipe at BBC bosses

BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty says presenters try to be impartial when reading the news but are “not robots”.

Naga said her role is to inform viewers ‘neutrally with insight as much as possible’ and presenters are “impartial but are not idiots”, who aren’t there to “blankly read the news”.

She also said she did her job as an ethnic minority who ‘isn’t a robot’ and referenced the death of US man George Floyd, who died last week after a police officer knelt on his neck.

The presenter said “we’re talking about Black Lives Matter now, we’re talking about George Floyd”.

The presenter gave her views on her role in a discussion about her hitting out at President Donald Trump last year for telling some female politicians to ‘go back’ to where they came from.

In an interview Naga said her role is to inform viewers ‘neutrally’ with insight as much as possible

The BBC ruled that the former Strictly Come Dancing star breached impartiality rules when she criticised the US president.

Speaking about the ruling on the Women’s Prize For Fiction podcast, she said: “I sit on that sofa as a woman, as a person of colour from an ethnic minority who is not a robot. We’re talking about Black Lives Matter now, we’re talking about George Floyd… We are not robots.

“We are not there to simply, blankly, read the news. That isn’t our job. We are judging what viewers need to know and we’re informing them as neutrally but with insight as much as we can. We are impartial but we’re not idiots.”

Mr Trump sent a series of tweets in which he told a number of female members of the Democrat party to “go back” to their own countries.

Naga said she presents “as a person of colour from an ethnic minority” who “informs viewers neutrally but with insight”

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley are all US citizens and three of them were born in the US.

Naga said at the time: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.

“Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”

The Executive Complaints Unit at the BBC, despite Naga receiving a great deal of praise for speaking up, ruled that her words breached the rules of impartiality that broadcasters are supposed to stick to.

Naga Munchetty attending the TRIC Awards 2019

A spokeswoman said: “The ECU 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 well beyond what the guidelines allow for.”

Last month, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis was accused of not being impartial after she condemned Dominic Cummings for his lockdown trip to Durham.

Afterwards the BBC released a statement saying the discussion on the lockdown row “did not meet our standards of due impartiality”.

The broadcaster posted the statement on Twitter in which it confirmed it had reviewed the show and “reminded staff of the guidelines”.

Emily Maitlis opened the programme by saying the Prime Minister’s chief adviser had “broken the rules” and “the country can see that, and it’s shocked the government cannot”.


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