Guto Harri has been indefinitely taken off the air as a presenter on the right-wing channel GB News, station sources told The Guardian, after being “canceled” by his viewers for symbolically stepping down. knee to screen.
The channel is currently in crisis, with other staff considering leaving amid management upheaval, meltdowns and stimulus plans.
GB News could not resist the strong and sustained reaction from viewers to Harri’s demonstration of solidarity with the racist abuse suffered by the England football team. The channel, created on the basis that free and open debate is no longer possible in mainstream media due to a pervasive ‘cancellation culture’, has been inundated with complaints that after just a few weeks of broadcast, she had “woken up”. and its content was not sufficiently right-handed.
After three days and a growing boycott, which led to some shows not attracting viewers, the channel’s management felt the need to get rid of Harri. In a statement, GB News said it was “unacceptable” for a presenter to kneel down, a symbol associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, and said Harri had broken the channel’s editorial code.
Friends of Harri said: “GB News is becoming an absurd parody of what it has claimed to be – not to stand up for free speech and fight against the cancellation of culture, but to reproduce it on the far right. Mean.
“It is ridiculous to say that he violated editorial standards and almost certainly defamatory. In reality, it was not a violation of the editorial code but of a “dismissal for having offended the mob of lynchings”. “
It’s unclear which part of the GB News Harri editorial code might have broken. The channel’s public editorial charter is committed to fundamental values such as “the independence of our journalism”, “respect for opinions and those who express them”, and “the right of each individual to forge and develop. share his point of view ”.
A GB News spokesperson was unable to immediately confirm whether Harri would be leaving the channel or whether other key staff were still at the station.
The incident comes amid a growing chain crisis, which only started four and a half weeks ago. Some live executives have reportedly left in recent days amid lingering unrest after the channel’s disastrous launch, which has been plagued by technical difficulties.
Among them is Gill Penlington, a respected and seasoned producer of 24-hour news channels such as CNN and Sky News, who was recruited as a senior official ahead of its launch, only to leave earlier this week. The departure of other key personalities live could be announced imminently, according to sources of the channel.
There is also strong speculation about Andrew Neil’s current relationship with the channel. He was involved in its creation and is chairman of its board of directors, and the station relied on its flagship 8pm show to bring together the viewers necessary for its success. However, after two weeks on the air, he took an extended vacation in the south of France. Despite posting dozens of tweets, he hasn’t mentioned GB News for nearly two weeks or shared any of its content.
The Harri incident proved to be indicative of the problems GB News is facing. Harri was a longtime BBC correspondent before entering politics as Boris Johnson’s spokesperson during his first term as mayor in London. He then went to work for Rupert Murdoch’s News UK for several years, but found himself described by some GB News viewers as a dangerous left-wing Marxist sleeper.
There is particular discontent among GB News staff who publicly defended Harri’s right to free speech earlier in the week, only to find out later about her position publicly contradicted by management.
Staff describe a split between two major camps. Some producers and presenters come from a mainstream broadcast journalism background and felt that jumping ship to the new channel would give them a new challenge or boost in their careers. Others approach it from a more political angle with a personal commitment to subjects of cultural war. In Neil’s absence, the only show with relatively good ratings was Dan Wootton’s late-night show, which leaned heavily on culture war issues.
Neil had made it clear before the channel launched that he did not want to be a “British Fox News” and that he would be committed to the values of mainstream journalism, albeit with a touch of the right. However, it seems to be different from what his audience wanted. As David Kurten, a former Ukip politician who now heads the right-wing niche Heritage Party, happily tweeted on the channel after Harri knelt: “Go wake up, go bankrupt.