Presenters and journalists must not describe Donald Trump as a racist even when he makes racist statements, the BBC has clarified.
Although it is acceptable to characterise racist comments made by public figures as such, staff are not allowed to then imply the person who said them is themselves a racist, David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards, said.
He was speaking on BBC Radio 4 to defend the decision to censure the Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty over comments she made about Mr Trump’s infamous “go back” taunt to four American congresswomen of colour.
Ms Munchetty was not wrong to describe the president’s tweets as racist, but she did cross the line when she went on to tell of her fury at Mr Trump’s remarks, Mr Jordan explained.
“Naga Munchetty was absolutely right to say what she said about that comment,” Mr Jordan told BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme.
The BBC rules state no viewer should be able to tell the personal opinions of its journalists and presenters on a “matter of public policy or political controversy”, Mr Jordan said.
“So the line is not about calling out racist comments, which is perfectly acceptable where things are clearly framed in racist language, it’s about how you go on then to discuss the person who made them and make assumptions or remarks about that,” he added.