Naga Munchetty says BBC presenters are not 'robots or idiots' and are 'not there to simply, blankly read the news'

Charlie Duffield
Bad morning: presenter Naga Munchetty was disciplined then undisciplined by the BBC after she made comments about Donald Trump on the Breakfast show: BBC Pictures

Naga Munchetty has said broadcasters are not "robots or idiots" and said her role as a newsreader is not to sit and "simply, blankly read the news".

The BBC Breakfast presenter was reflecting on the race row she was embroiled in last year after she condemned comments by Donald Trump on Twitter.

She insisted that she informs viewers "neutrally" and gives insight where possible, in accordance with impartiality guidelines.

In July last year, the 45-year old condemned the US president for telling a number of female Democratic candidates to "go back" where they came from, and was found to have breached BBC's editorial conduct rules.

However, after huge backlash over the ruling, the BBC’s director-general Lord Tony Hall chose to reverse the decision.

He said: "The Executive Complaints Unit ruling has sparked an important debate about racism and its interpretation.

"Racism is racism and the BBC is not impartial on the topic. There was never a finding against Naga for what she said about the President's tweet."

Now, when asked about the controversy, Ms Munchetty told the Women’s Prize for Fiction podcast: "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."

BBC presenter Emily Maitlis was also recently accused of breaching BBC impartiality guidelines, after criticising Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy in a monologue during a BBC Newsnight episode.

She said Mr Cummings had "broken the rules" when he travelled from London to Durham during lockdown and "the country can see that, and it's shocked the Government cannot".

Some were angered by her initial broadcast, which they interpreted as biased, whilst others critiqued the BBC following the release of a statement saying Ms Maitlis had broken the rules.

The BBC said the monologue "did not meet our standards of due impartiality".

Nevertheless, the BBC has said the case is now closed and no formal investigation will be made, although Ofcom, having received hundreds of complaints, is being asked to look into the incident further.

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