May 14, 2020
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Naga Munchetty Says Lessons Have Been Learned From BBC Breakfast Trump Row
Naga Munchetty has said that “lessons have been learned” following a controversy over on-air comments she made about US president Donald Trump.
The BBC ruled she had breached their guidelines around impartiality when, last July on BBC Breakfast, she criticised racist remarks made by the US president, after he tweeted telling female Democrats to “go back” to their own countries.
The broadcaster’s decision was eventually overturned by BBC Director General Tony Hall following a backlash to the original ruling.In a new interview with the Guardian, Naga has now said things are improving at the corporation, after she had some “very robust” conversations with senior BBC figures.
She added: “I think there was a process that needed to be gone through. I think lessons have been learned and things are improving.
“We’re learning all the time – the BBC learns, I learn, move on.”
Naga, who insisted she is not “a victim in any shape or form”, added: “Tony Hall and I have had conversations since, very robust conversations, as I’ve had with other members of management.”The presenter also noted that while “as journalists, you are taught to bring balance to everything we do”, she also feels “a responsibility to show that certain things are not acceptable”.
“And some things are not nuanced,” Naga said. “You have to have some faith in your journalists being smart, educated, curious, intelligent people.
“I’m not there to give an opinion, but I’m equally not there to ignore a damaging opinion and to absorb that into our coverage,” she added.READ MORE: Dan Walker Says He Should Have Spoken Out Over BBC Naga Munchetty Row Bill Turnbull Admits BBC’s ‘Unfair’ Decision To Uphold Complaint Against Naga Munchetty Made Him ‘Cross’ Ofcom Criticises BBC's Handling Of Naga Munchetty Row After Making Own Ruling On Complaint In the broadcast last July, Naga had said that “every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism”, adding: “I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.”
Trump’s tweets in question had been written about US politicians Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. All four are US citizens, and three of them were born in America.
In a letter Lord Hall sent to BBC staff after he reversed the ruling that Naga had breached editorial guidelines, he said that “racism is racism and the BBC is not impartial on the topic”.
However, Naga’s BBC Breakfast co-host Dan Walker criticised the BBC for not giving “a more robust defence of their presenters”.
“We do think it could have been dealt with very differently,” he told Radio Times.  
“It was the right decision to overturn the original finding, but it didn’t need to get that far. Both of us felt we sailed near the line but we didn’t cross it.”
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