BBC's Dan Walker breaks silence on Naga Munchetty and Trump racism row

‘I should’ve said something’: BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker admits he regrets failing to publicly support co-host Naga Munchetty in Donald Trump racism row

  • Presenter Dan, 42, has finally broken his silence about his co-host Naga’s racism row with Donald Trump, which took place in July 2019
  • The British-Indian journalist, 45, was temporarily censured by the broadcaster after saying she ‘absolutely furious’ at the US president’s decision to tell four congresswomen to ‘go back home’ during an on-air discussion with Dan
  • The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) had originally ruled that Naga – who has been an employee at the company for over 10 years – had breached editorial guidelines
  • In partially upholding a complaint against the TV star, the BBC was itself accused of racism, with broadcasters Sir Lenny Henry and Krishnan Guru-Murthy among others launching a campaign for the BBC to reverse its decision
  • Following the outrage over the ruling, the corporation’s executive Tony sent an email to staff, claiming the decision ‘sparked an important debate about racism and its interpretation’ 

BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker has finally broken his silence about his co-host Naga Munchetty’s racism row with Donald Trump.

In July last year, presenter Naga, 45, was temporarily censured by the broadcaster after she admitted she was ‘absolutely furious’ at the US president’s decision to tell four congresswomen to ‘go back home’ during an on-air discussion with Dan, 42. 

Over eight months on, Dan has expressed his regret over failing to publicly support his colleague as he confessed: ‘I felt I should have said something in support of her, but she didn’t want any more attention.’

‘I should’ve said said something’: BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker has finally broken his silence about his co-host Naga Munchetty’s racism row with Donald Trump (Dan pictured with Naga in July)

The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) had originally ruled that Naga – who has been an employee at the company for over 10 years – had breached editorial guidelines when she condemned Trump’s comments.

In partially upholding a complaint against the TV star, the BBC was itself accused of racism, with broadcasters Sir Lenny Henry and Krishnan Guru-Murthy among others launching a campaign for the BBC to reverse its decision. 

Journalist Dan revealed he encouraged BBC’s Director General Tony Hall to change the ruling as he said in this week’s Radio Times: ‘She was at the centre of this storm. The day the story came out, I wrote to Tony Hall, saying, ”If Naga is guilty, then I’m guilty”.

Outrage: Presenter Naga was temporarily censured by the BBC after she admitted she was ‘absolutely furious’ at controversial comments made by the US president (pictured on Monday)

‘At the time I didn’t know I’d been mentioned in the original complaint. The BBC should have given a more robust defence of their presenters.’  

The British-Indian presenter hit headlines when she responded to the controversial tweet by Trump as she stated: ‘Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism.

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

‘Furious. Absolutely furious and I can imagine lots of people in this country will be feeling absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s OK to skirt the lines by using language like that.’ 

Drama: In the ‘racist’ tweet shared over the summer, Trump told four congresswomen to ‘go back home’ to their countries of origin

Following the outrage over the BBC’s ruling, the corporation’s executive Tony sent an email to staff, claiming the decision ‘sparked an important debate about racism and its interpretation’.

He said: ‘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.’

 ‘I have looked carefully at all the arguments that have been made and assessed all of the materials.

‘She didn’t want anymore attention’: Over eight months on, Dan, 42, (pictured in 2017) has expressed his regret over failing to publicly support his colleague

‘I wrote to him, saying, ”If Naga is guilty, then I’m guilty”’: Journalist Dan revealed he encouraged BBC’s Director General Tony Hall (pictured in 2016) to reverse the BBC’s ruling

‘I have also examined the complaint itself. It was only ever in a limited way that there was found to be a breach of our guidelines. These are often finely balanced and difficult judgement.

‘But, in this instance, I don’t think Naga’s words were sufficient to merit a partial uphold of the complaint around the comments she made. There was never any sanction against Naga and I hope this step makes that absolutely clear.’

Available: This week’s edition of Radio Times is out now (Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc pictured)

He hailed Naga as ‘an exceptional journalist and presenter’, adding: ‘I am proud that she works for the BBC.’

Earlier this year, the University of Leeds alum revealed she was encouraged to speak out on racism as her parents had been abused because of their ethnicity while working as nurses in London. 

In an interview with Vogue magazine, the media personality said she had witnessed the impact racism had on her parents who moved to Britain in 1971. 

She said: ‘My mum has been told, “You P*** bitch, get your hands off me,” when she’s cleaning someone. My dad has been told the same thing. When their cleaning someone’s a***. A racist person’s a***.

‘I’ve lived in south London until eight years ago. And I’ve been told many times “why don’t you just f*** off to where you came from?”

‘So trust me, when things touch you, sometimes you physically can’t let that go. If you’re saying you saw me sit back – frustrated, angry – it’s inevitable when you’ve had these experiences.’  

Inspiration: Naga revealed she was encouraged to speak out on racism as her parents had been abused while working as nurses (pictured with her mother in January)

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