BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty returned to the TV couch on Friday morning after issuing a humbling apology for liking ‘offensive’ tweets about the Union flag in an MP’s video call on Thursday.
Appearing alongside co-host Charlie Stayt, the pair didn’t address the incident as the morning programme kicked into gear today, launching straight into a package on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s impending coronavirus vaccination.
It follows Munchetty’s apology for liking tweets that were ‘offensive in nature’ after Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick appeared via video call on Thursday’s programme with the Union flag in the background.
Both Munchetty and Stayt were seen laughing at the flag, as well as a portrait of the Queen on the wall, as the segment ended, as they told the MP the flag was ‘not up to standard size government interview measurements’.
Later on Thursday night Munchetty tweeted to clarify that she had ‘unliked’ some tweets about the moment, and that they ‘do not represent’ her views.
She wrote: ‘I “liked” tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning.
‘I have since removed these ‘likes’. This do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken. Naga.’
Her apology followed Thursday’s programme, when, at the end of the segment with Mr Jenrick, Stayt said: ‘I think your flag is not up to standard size government interview measurements.’
‘I think it’s just a little small, but that’s your department, really.’
Munchetty could be heard laughing before the camera went back to the studio where she was sat with her hand over her mouth, chuckling.
She said: ‘There’s always a flag. They had the picture of the Queen though. In the Westminster office I am assuming.’
It followed new guidelines for BBC news staff over their use of social media, with new director-general Tim Davie warning employees in September to be mindful of new impartiality rules.
The corporation later published guidelines which warned staff not to bring the corporation ‘into disrepute’ with their behaviour online.
It included guidance on avoiding bias through follows, likes or re-posting and shares, as well as tougher guidelines for some staff in news, current affairs, factual journalism, senior leadership, and a small number of presenters who have a significant public profile.
In 2019 Munchetty, who has been part of BBC Breakfast since 2008, becoming a lead presenter in 2014, found herself at the centre of the news after she called out then-President Donald Trump over his comments about four congresswomen of colour.
She was supported by her BBC Breakfast colleagues, but was initially found to have broken the BBC’s impartiality guidelines by the broadcaster’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). However this decision was later overturned by then director-general, Tony Hall.