GB News should be taken off air in the wake of Laurence Fox’s comments, a Conservative MP has said – as Ofcom received more than 7,000 complaints over the misogyny scandal.
Caroline Nokes said it was “odd” that Tory MPs hosted their own shows on the channel.
Fox, the former actor and leader of The Reclaim Party, appeared on the Dan Wootton Tonight show on Tuesday and said of a female journalist: “Who would want to shag that?”
Wootton did not reprimand his guest and sent a joking message to Fox afterwards.
GB News has suspended both men, while the parent group of MailOnline announced that it had terminated Wootton’s contract and regular column.
During a Newsnight discussion, Ms Nokes – who chairs the House of Commons women and equalities committee – said of the channel: “It should be taken off air.
“It was entirely predictable that Laurence Fox was going to come out with a statement that was that offensive. I think what was less predictable would be Dan Wootton’s smirking reaction.”
"I think it should be taken off air"
Conservative MP Caroline Nokes tells #Newsnight Ofcom needs space to its job and that maybe regulations should be 'tightened up'https://t.co/P0zxS1DNGF pic.twitter.com/RizHEY89vt
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) September 27, 2023
Ms Nokes said it was “odd” that her colleagues – Lee Anderson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Esther McVey and Philip Davies – host programmes on GB News.
“To be frank, from my perspective, if you’re a Member of Parliament you have a day job to do, getting on with the work you have in the House of Commons, and not swanning off in some cases several times a week to present a show on a television channel.”
However, the Prime Minister backed Mr Anderson when asked about his role on GB News, saying he was doing a “fantastic job” for his constituents.
Taking part in a series of regional broadcast interviews ahead of the Tory party conference, Rishi Sunak said: “He’s helping me deliver for people to halve inflation, to grow the economy, to reduce debt, to cut waiting lists and, importantly, to stop the boats.
“That’s what Lee’s doing. He’s got my total support.”
‘Startling lack of consistency’
Mr Davies, who presents a weekly show with Ms McVey, said: “Caroline is perfectly entitled to her opinion. That’s fine, that’s her view.
“But I can’t recall her saying that the BBC should be taken off air after Russell Brand’s disgusting pre-recorded message to Andrew Sachs, or after the Jimmy Savile scandal.
“There’s a rather startling lack of consistency.”
Of Ms Nokes’ suggestion that it was “odd” for Conservative MPs to appear on GB News, Mr Davies said: “Some people might think it’s odd that Caroline Nokes is a Conservative.”
Mr Davies added: “The reason why the media establishment are so determined to see it taken off air is because it’s doing so well.
“If it was drawing the figures of TalkTV, maybe they wouldn’t be so worried. We’re delivering what viewers want to see.
“If I were to give some free advice to the media establishment, I would say: rather than trying to close GB News down, why not learn why so many people want to watch it?
“If people like Nick Robinson ever asked the questions we ask, there would have been no need for GB News in the first place.”
He said that management had acted swiftly to suspend Wootton and Fox, and that mistakes can be made on live television.
Earlier this month, Ofcom ruled that a programme hosted by Ms McVey and Mr Davies, in which they interviewed Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, broke impartiality rules.
The media regulator has received 7,300 complaints about the Dan Wootton Tonight broadcast and is investigating whether or not the material was offensive.
That is the second highest complaints figure of the year, after the 8,371 who complained about Adjoa Andoh, the Bridgerton actress, referring to the “terribly white” Buckingham Palace balcony during the King’s Coronation.
The watchdog has been accused of failing to crack down on GB News.
Dame Melanie Dawes, the chief executive of Ofcom, said: “Over the last few days there has been speculation and commentary about our role as the independent broadcast regulator. These are important issues and I wanted to be clear about our rules.
“Parliament sets objectives on how the broadcast sector should be regulated. We set and enforce rules to achieve these objectives. Contrary to some claims, these rules remain unchanged.
“The decisions we take, always based on facts and evidence once a programme has aired, are vital if we are to protect our vibrant media landscape. We continue to apply and enforce these rules without fear or favour.”