BBC expands on its ruling over Naga Munchetty's Donald Trump comments

Julia Hunt
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06:  Naga Munchetty attends the Attitude Pride Awards 2018 at The Berkeley Hotel on July 6, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Naga Munchetty attends the Attitude Pride Awards 2018 at The Berkeley Hotel on July 6, 2018 in London, England. (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

The BBC has responded to the backlash over its ruling on Naga Munchetty criticising Donald Trump for perceived racism, explaining that editorial guidelines did not allow for the presenter to share her personal opinion.

In July, the BBC Breakfast host took issue with comments made by the US President after he told some female Democrats to "go back" to the "places from which they came".

Read more: Naga Munchetty broke guidelines over Trump comments

She 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."

Munchetty, 44, went on to say she was “furious” and could imagine that “lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious that a man in that position feels it's OK to skirt the lines with using language like that”.

The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) ruled that the presenter breached impartiality guidelines but the ruling has been criticised by many, with Piers Morgan and Jeremy Corbyn among those expressing their outrage at the decision.

Read more: Piers Morgan defends Naga Munchetty

Responding to the backlash, the ECU has now expanded on how it came to its conclusion.

It said in a statement: “President Trump’s comments that a number of female Democrat members of Congress should ‘go back’ to the ‘totally broken and crime infested places from which they came’ were widely condemned as racist, and we reported on this extensively.

“The BBC’s editorial guidelines do require due impartiality, but the Editorial Complaints Unit’s ruling is clear that Naga Munchetty was perfectly entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go back to your own country’.

“She understandably feels strongly on this issue, and there was nothing wrong with her talking about her own experiences of racism.

“However, our editorial guidelines do not allow for journalists to then give their opinions about the individual making the remarks or their motives for doing so – in this case President Trump – and it was for this reason that the complaint was partially upheld.

“Those judgments are for the audience to make.”