Dan Walker, 43, has spoken out about his co-host Naga Munchetty’s, 45, run in with BBC, after a complaint was made about her remarks in relation to US President Donald Trump. In July last year, the two presenters discussed the President telling four US congresswomen to “go back” to “the places from which they came”.
Turning to Naga, Dan described Trump’s comments as “telling”, before she responded: “Yes. And every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back 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.”
Dan then said: “It feels like a thought-out strategy to strengthen his position”, to which she replied: “And it is not enough to do it just to get attention. He’s in a responsible position. Anyway I’m not here to give my opinion.”
But Naga’s own personal experiences didn’t sit well with one viewer, who in turn complained to the broadcaster about her breaching BBC guidelines.
The move by BBC was widely condemned and an open letter was sent from 61 broadcasters, including Afua Hirsch, Lenny Henry and Krishnan Guru-Murthy, urging it to reconsider its decision.
Ultimately, the BBC director general Tony Hall, reversed the ruling, saying the complaints unit had made “the wrong call”.
Almost a year after the ordeal, Dan remains adamant he has “no regrets” about the way to pair handled the discussion.
“Breakfast isn’t the 10 o’clock news, we are there to share a bit of ourselves, and maybe we shared a bit too much,” he admitted in an exclusive interview with Radio Times.
“At the time it felt a very natural conversation. We knew in that moment that it was different to the sort of things we usually talk about. But I don’t regret it, and I don’t think Naga does either.”
The Football Focus host revealed he hasn’t before broken his silence on the issue “out of respect” for Naga, after previously asking her if she wanted him to speak out.
The dad-of-three stated the ordeal “didn’t need to get that far” and thought it “could have been dealt with very differently”.
“They came round to the right decision eventually. They’ve apologised to Naga.”
Naga also spoke out in an interview with British Vogue, and stood by her comments and denied they were unprofessional.
“One of the balancing acts of being a Breakfast presenter is being comfortable enough to show who you are and your personality,” she said.
“You have to show empathy. You cannot sit there and be a robot on that sofa.
“And I do stand by it. It is not OK to use offensive language, or to skirt around offensive language, to make a point or get attention.”
Despite the media storm, she said “very positive things” had come from the incident and she now had regular meetings with Hall, who “wants to listen”.
“What it has done is raise an uncomfortable conversation that needed to be raised,” she said.
The full interview is available to read in Radio Times now.
BBC Breakfast airs weekdays at 6am on BBC One.