Broadcasting regulator Ofcom is investigating Channel 4 coverage of a protest against the Government cancelling Brexit day on March 29th, in which veteran broadcaster Jon Snow exclaimed, “I’ve never seen so many white people in one place!”
Channel 4, a publicly-owned organisation, is supposed to be subject to Britain’s relatively stringent broadcasting regulations, which require news and current affairs programmes to maintain an appearance of neutrality and impartiality — at least in theory.
Thousands of members of the public believe that Mr Snow — widely believed to hold strong left-wing views — fell somewhat short of these requirements when delivering his closing remarks on the aforementioned March 29th protest against politicians delaying Brexit:
“Police are now wearing riot gear. Police dogs are patrolling. The mood has changed,” he suggested.
“It has been the most extraordinary day. A day which has seen — I’ve never seen so many white people in one place!” he exclaimed.
“It’s an extraordinary story — there are people everywhere, there are crowds everywhere.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 30, 2019
Mr Snow, who is white, was born in the 1940s and grew up in elite boarding schools, one of which was run by his late father, the Bishop of Whitby — leading some to question whether he had really never seen white people in a large group before.
He will not be the only person Ofcom will be investigating, however, with the regulator saying it will also be looking into remarks made by Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage on his LBC programme in response to Snow.
The veteran campaigner said the broadcaster “should be attacked without doubt” for his comments.
Former New Labour apparatchik and Iraq War spinmeister Alastair Campbell asked Farage why Snow deserved to be attacked, to which the veteran eurosceptic responded: “Because of his terrible condescending bias, but that’s a separate issue.”
The MEP clarified that of course was not referring to a violent physical attack, but Ofcom will be investigating the remarks following a significant five complaints — small potatoes compared to the 2,644 against Mr Snow.
Jon Snow on the pro-Brexit protests outside Parliament, "I have never seen so many white people in one place… it's an extraordinary story, there are people everywhere" pic.twitter.com/XC7ipXpViW
— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) March 29, 2019
Channel 4 was described as having apologised for the incident, but did not actually do so, merely explaining that Snow’s remarks were “an unscripted observation at the very end of a long week of fast-moving Brexit developments.”
“Jon has covered major events such as this over a long career and this was a spontaneous comment reflecting his observation that in a London demonstration of that size, ethnic minorities seemed to be significantly under-represented,” appearing to double down on the presenter’s comments, if anything.
The added, “We regret any offence caused by his comment” — but this would appear to fall short what most would regard as a legitimate apology.